Nationalization, fewer journalists, too many candidates, Trump 24/7 have some worried about the first-in-the-nation presidential contest.
CONCORD, NH — In a little less than two months, voters will go to the polls to cast ballots for candidates running in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Fifty candidates, one of the largest fields of contenders in the history of the contest, plunked down $1,000 to gain ballot access, attempting to become the leader of the free world. As in past years, there are established candidates with professional resumes and a record of accomplishments and doe-eyed dreamers who cling to the ethos that anyone can grow up to be president of the United States.
But if you haven’t been paying close attention, you might not know a primary is taking place. So far, the 2020 election cycle has been a seemingly sleepy affair, and observers wonder if this is just a sign of the times or if interest is waning in the cherished small-state retail politicking that has picked American presidents for nearly seven decades.
The beauty of New Hampshire, and the Iowa Caucus as well, has always been that voters, for the most part, can have interactive processes with the candidates if they want them. This is something that doesn’t occur as a presidential race moves onto larger states and becomes about raising gobs of money and gathering delegates to nominating conventions. Here, voters get up close and personal, and often ask deep, meaningful questions.
And even if you don’t get to meet the candidates more than once, the news coverage has historically been strong: both fluffy and hard-hitting. And now, with video and social media embeds, readers and viewers get all kinds of story angles. It can sometimes get silly, too, like learning what songs the candidates listen to when they workout or how they eat their pizza. The joke — I don’t know if I’m voting for X candidate; I’ve only met them three times — is true, or at least used to be.
The primary has also offered the opportunity for fresh-faced political activists to labor intensively next to seasoned activists and sometime dreamers, learning about the tricks of the trade – all while rubbing elbows with regular folks in factories and millyards, and at cocktail parties and coffee klatches. They also get a chance to spend time with the candidates themselves. This experience isn’t replicated on the presidential level anywhere else beyond the inner circles of the candidates.
Admittedly, changes began occurring a while ago.