Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics 3030247961, 9783030247966

The state of New Hampshire has played a pivotal role in Donald Trump's rise. This volume examines how the Granite S

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Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics
 3030247961,  9783030247966

Table of contents :
Acknowledgements......Page 7
Praise for Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics......Page 10
Contents......Page 12
List of Tables......Page 13
Politics & Eggs & Trump......Page 14
The Rise of Donald Trump’s Celebrity......Page 18
2000: Trump the Reformer......Page 23
The Apprentice......Page 25
2012: Trump the Birther and Almost Candidate......Page 28
The Plan of the Book......Page 30
References......Page 32
Abstract......Page 37
Becoming First in the Nation......Page 39
American Politics on the Brink of 2016......Page 40
New Hampshire and Ideology......Page 44
Defeat and a Restoration of Normalcy Are Just Around the Corner......Page 47
Scattered Endorsements......Page 48
How the Candidates Ran......Page 50
A Series of Strategic Blunders and Poor Choices......Page 54
Trump’s Primary Victory......Page 57
References......Page 60
Abstract......Page 65
The Republicans: Coming to Terms with Trump......Page 67
Clinton Versus Trump: The Political Landscape in New Hampshire......Page 69
Candidates in the Granite State......Page 71
New Hampshire’s Democratic Advantage......Page 74
The Downballot Races......Page 76
References......Page 81
Abstract......Page 85
New Hampshire Politics in the Shadow of Donald Trump......Page 87
The Fight for the State Legislature......Page 89
New Hampshire’s Federal Races......Page 93
The Race for Governor......Page 94
The Contest for Secretary of State......Page 97
References......Page 102
Abstract......Page 109
The Republicans......Page 110
The Democrats......Page 119
The Party Nudges, Gently......Page 126
Intraparty Debates......Page 128
The Early States Persist......Page 129
References......Page 131
Index......Page 135

Citation preview


Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics Christopher J. Galdieri

Palgrave Studies in US Elections Series Editor Luke Perry Utica College Utica, NY, USA

This Pivot series, established in collaboration with the Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research, brings together cutting-edge work in US Politics focused on trends and issues surrounding local, state, and federal elections. Books in this series may cover but are not limited to topics such as voting behavior, campaign management, policy considerations, electoral social movements, and analysis of significant races. While welcoming all projects on US elections within and across all three levels of government, this series proceeds from the truism that all politics is fundamentally local. As such, we are especially interested in research on state and local elections such as mayoral races, gubernatorial races, and congressional elections, with particular focus on how state/local electoral trends influence national electoral politics, and vice versa. This series is open to any relevant scholar and all methodological approaches. More information about this series at

Christopher J. Galdieri

Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics

Christopher J. Galdieri Department of Political Science Saint Anselm College Manchester, NH, USA

Palgrave Studies in US Elections ISBN 978-3-030-24796-6 ISBN 978-3-030-24797-3  (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Palgrave Pivot imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

For Sean Broom, Emily A. Peters Riner, Theo Groh, Ashley Motta, Ted York, Nick Coe, Emily Wiklund Hayhurst, Donald Stokes, Nolan Varee, Liz Kulig, and all my other former students who planted themselves like trees in 2018.


First and foremost, thanks to Luke Perry of Utica College for inviting me to be a part of this book series, and to Michelle Chen, John Stegner, and the rest of the editorial, marketing, and production teams at Palgrave for turning a manuscript into a book. The bulk of the writing of this book took place during a sabbatical from Saint Anselm College during the spring semester of 2019. Thank you to the Dean’s Office and the Politics Department at Saint Anselm for making that possible. Thanks are further due to the Dean’s Office for the summer research grant which supported the final preparation of this manuscript. And thank you to the Fr. Peter J. Guerin, O.S.B. Center for Teaching Excellence at Saint Anselm College: I started work on this project during its 2018 faculty writing challenge, and finished the first draft of the last chapter during the 2019 challenge. Community and accountability help make the solitary task of writing lighter. The attentive reader will note many references to events that took place at Saint Anselm, many of which I witnessed firsthand. These are not attempts to feather my nest: Saint Anselm really does host an unbelievable amount of primary activity, visible and otherwise. For someone who read Dayton Duncan’s Grassroots as a teenager and could only imagine what the New Hampshire primary must be like, working at its epicenter so many years later is a level of wish fulfillment few people are lucky enough to experience. Special thanks are due to the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce Law Center Library, where I went to write nearly every day of my vii



sabbatical, for allowing me to test its reciprocity agreement with Saint Anselm to the very limit. Thanks to the staff of the library for their hospitality and kindness and goodwill, to the confused law students who collectively decided I must be a nontraditional law student they hadn’t taken any classes with, and to everyone else at the law school who decided anyone spending so much time there must have business being there. Additional thanks are due to the True Brew Café at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, where I sometimes worked on breaks from going to the law library. Support your local independent bookstores. Thank you to my colleagues in the Politics Department, Erik Cleven, Christine Gustafson, Anne Holthoefer, Peter Josephson, Dale Kuehne, and Jennifer Lucas, as well as Tauna Starbuck Sisco of the Sociology department, and my many other faculty colleagues who listened to me talk through writing and research problems and worry about deadlines. The staff at Geisel Library once again went above and beyond when it came to tracking down interlibrary loans and obscure data points. Particular thanks are due to Melinda Malik and to Rebekah Dreyer on this front. And thank you to Julia Azari, Kevin Parsneau, Kate E. Creevy, Shirin Deylami, Jack Collens, and Rob Boatright for online or in-person bull sessions and critiques that helped me work out what I was doing in this book. Thanks as well to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. As is the case for all of my major writing projects, thanks are due to my Facebook friends for reading and responding to my daily writing word counts. Much of the data on primary and general election candidate travel, events, and endorsements flies beneath the radar of professional media outlets, but is lovingly and painstakingly preserved by political enthusiasts. Thank you to Mike Dec and, Eric M. Appleman and, and the masterminds behind Ballotpedia and Daily Kos Elections for their efforts. Thanks as well to McKenzie St. Germain for sharing her data on the New Hampshire Democrats’ candidates in 2016 and 2018, and to Theo Groh for putting me in touch with her. And thank you to David S. Bernstein for reminding me of the “Bill Gardner Facts” hashtag. Additional thanks to Timothy Dalton and to Susie Myerson. Thanks as well to Tracyanne Campbell and Danny Coughlan, to Alicia Witt, to Pink Martini, and to Lyle Lovett and His Large Band for performing within driving distance of Concord during the writing of this manuscript.



Penultimate thanks to my parents, James and Donna Galdieri, and to my in-laws, Bill Eads and Mary Rainsford Eads, not just for their love and support but for stepping in to provide emergency child-care during the homestretch of my writing. And finally, I thank my family, who have now lived with me through three major writing ventures and gotten too used to that final stretch of each venture during which I am blitheringly unaware of everything going on around me. Thank you to my wife, Katherine Alexandra Eads Galdieri, our daughter, Veronica Rose Eads Galdieri, and our son, Alexander Christopher Eads Galdieri, for everything.


Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics


“In 2016, Donald Trump and New Hampshire seemed like the Odd Couple of presidential politics. With numerous insights, Christopher Galdieri explains convincingly why the Granite State proved indispensable to Trump’s success. If you want a clear snapshot of the state of play in this key primary state, this is the place to go.” —Dante Scala, Professor, Political Science, University of New Hampshire, USA “Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics is a definitive discussion of the political success of Donald Trump in a uniquely important state. Galdieri provides a comprehensive treatment of everything that puts New Hampshire in a central place in American politics. In doing so, he helps us understand why Trump was successful and how he has changed American politics.” —David A. M. Peterson, Professor, Political Science, Iowa State University, USA “Chris Galdieri’s Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics shows how important the Granite State was in the 2016 election. This lively, well-written book raises provocative questions about how the American presidential primary system works and about how it has changed over the past few years. It is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how




Trump won and how Trump’s success will reshape presidential primary campaigns in both parties in 2020 and beyond.” —Robert G. Boatright, Professor, Political Science, Clark University, USA


1 Visiting the Granite State Again 1 2 Donald Trump and the 2016 New Hampshire Primary 25 3 New Hampshire in the 2016 General Election 53 4 New Hampshire Politics in 2017 and 2018 73 5 The 2020 New Hampshire Primary: A Look Ahead 97 Index 123


List of Tables

Table 2.1 Endorsements by New Hampshire state legislators in 2012 and 2016 Republican primaries Table 2.2 Republican candidate events in New Hampshire during 2015 and 2016 Table 3.1 2016 electorate by level of educational attainment in New Hampshire and other key states Table 3.2 2016 vote by level of educational attainment in New Hampshire and other key states

37 41 64 65



Visiting the Granite State Again

Abstract  Donald Trump’s 2016 candidacy was predicated on decades of image crafting and management as well as prior flirtations with running for president. To understand how Trump won the 2016 election it is first necessary to understand how he used his celebrity—as a business figure, as the subject of tabloid gossip, and as a television host—to shape his political activities and build an image and a following that went largely unnoticed by most political observers. Keywords  Celebrity Donald Trump

· New Hampshire primary · Reality television ·

Politics & Eggs & Trump On January 21, 2014, Donald Trump came to New Hampshire. That morning he descended on the Granite State as the featured speaker at Politics & Eggs, the long-running series of breakfast speeches at Saint Anselm College where presidential candidates and other prominent political figures speak to an audience of New England business leaders and college students and other guests, and autograph dozens of the wooden eggs handed out as souvenirs. Politics & Eggs has become such a necessary stop on the road to the White House that it was name-checked by a fictional presidential © The Author(s) 2020 C. J. Galdieri, Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics, Palgrave Studies in US Elections,



candidate on The West Wing (Carlson 2015). During the months running up to New Hampshire’s presidential primary, these breakfasts pile up one after another on the calendar as major candidates line up to take part in the ritual. During the lean years between campaigns, on the other hand, the guest list sometimes includes those who are gingerly and deniably testing the waters for a possible run in the next primary, or prominent political reporters and analysts, or those whose celebrity is adjacent to politics. Donald Trump fell into that last category. As a frequent almost-candidate in several past elections, Trump had visited New Hampshire before. But this would be the first time he had ever spoken at Politics & Eggs. At breakfast that morning—where the audience was much larger than it had been for people who had actually run for president in the 2008 and 2012 primary cycles—Trump took to the podium and spoke for just over 50 minutes. During his talk he hopscotched from questions of policy like the previous fall’s botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s health care exchanges and trade with China and Mexico, to the upcoming midterm elections, to arguing groundlessly that “dishonest and corrupt” unemployment numbers had helped re-elect Barack Obama in 2012, to insisting that his hair was his own, real hair and not a wig, to reminding the attendees that the fourteenth season of The Apprentice was about to premiere. He decried the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the state of American airports relative to those in Qatar and the “beautiful coating of Teflon” he saw as insulating President Obama from criticism and the caliber of American negotiators under the Obama administration. He agreed with a questioner that Benghazi was a disgrace, and lamented that the scandal did not resonate with the public. He praised the quality of his golf courses and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and speculated that Republicans would do well in the 2014 midterm elections and that Chris Christie was “one email away from disaster.” Looking back at this speech years later, it is striking how subdued Trump was in his presentation, compared to the bombastic rhetoric that has characterized him as a candidate and officeholder; this talk came across not as the prepared remarks of a serious political contender so much as the freewheeling free associations of someone who dabbles in politics and was simply happy to have been asked to speak at Politics & Eggs. Following his breakfast remarks, Trump attended a meet-and-greet session with the Saint Anselm College branch of the College Republicans



at the campus’ New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Trump blustered into the meeting room and strode to the lectern, where, without removing his topcoat, he briefly declaimed about the 2014 midterm elections, in which he assured the group he might yet decide to accept calls from unnamed people urging him to run for governor in New York, depending on who else ran; seemed to suggest that the United States should extend full diplomatic recognition to North Korea; and claimed that the United States has the highest levels of taxation in the world. He then invited those in attendance to line up for pictures with him before he departed. If you were a politically knowledgeable person watching Trump’s Politics & Eggs performance, you likely would have come away from it shaking your head. When it came to questions of public policy, Trump showed little ability to discuss them at anything beyond the most surface level. While Trump had elbowed his way into the political arena in the few years leading up to his visit, most notoriously as the loudest cheerleader for the groundless and racist “birther” conspiracy that questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, and had made other feints toward the political arena during his decades on the public stage, it was clear from his remarks that he had little of substance to offer. While some were already speculating that Trump might run for president in 2016, it was more like the sort of speculation that had in previous decades attached itself to perennial candidates like Harold Stassen than that surrounding rising Republican stars like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The smart money would have bet that Trump would once again eventually decide once again not to run for president, even while he enjoyed the attention of not quite running, just as he had in 1988, 2000, and 2012; indeed, what little national press coverage there was of Trump’s visit took it as given that he was clearly not actually even pretending to be running for anything anymore (Coppins 2014; Weigel 2014). But if all you were paying attention to was what Trump knew about public affairs, you were missing the real story. The real story, it would turn out, lay not in what Trump did or did not know about the issues of the day, but in the outsized response to his visit. While many of New Hampshire’s Republican bigwigs had little interest in Trump as a presidential candidate, so many people were interested or curious enough in seeing Trump that his Politics & Eggs appearance was moved from its usual location in the auditorium of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics to the much larger student dining hall in order to hold the


estimated 350 attendees who had come out on a cold January morning to see Trump. Trump was not the first celebrity to visit New Hampshire, nor the first to blend celebrity and politics, but he was an unusual type of celebrity. He was not a celebrity who had become a politician as a second career, as Ronald Reagan had been, nor a celebrity appearing on behalf of a candidate or cause, as John Cho and Sharon Stone and Chuck Norris and more had done in visits to New Hampshire in past election cycles. Trump was a celebrity who dabbled in politics, and whose celebrity came not as a performer but as himself—as a real estate mogul, as the object of endless tabloid headlines about his personal life, as the host of NBC’s reality game show The Apprentice. And as a celebrity, Trump presented himself to the world in terms of ostentation and overdone opulence. Whatever else one might think of Donald Trump, he was never boring, and that morning the promise of spectacle drew a bigger crowd than had ever before attended Politics & Eggs. We now know, of course, that Trump’s visit was not just a lark. While the national political press mostly ignored his visit to New Hampshire, Trump himself was more serious about 2016 than he had been about any of his past flirtations with running for president. He had quietly trademarked the phrase “make America great again” just after the 2012 election (Tumulty 2017) and obsessed over the reactions to his Politics & Eggs talk (Coppins 2014). And there were hints in his remarks that 2016 might be different. He said, at one point, that Americans “used to be the smart ones, now we’re the dummies,” in a clear foreshadowing of the themes of his 2016 campaign. And he predicted to his listeners that morning that the Republican candidate in 2016 would be “somebody nobody is thinking about.” On January 21, 2014, few political pundits, observers, or scientists were thinking about Donald Trump as a presidential candidate at all, let alone as a plausible candidate, and certainly not as a viable nominee or the eventual winner of the election. But one day less than three years after that talk, America would find Trump standing on the steps of the United States Capitol repeating the presidential oath of office after Chief Justice John Roberts, and beginning one of the most tumultuous and divisive administrations in American history. How did this happen? How did a vulgar multimillionaire with no political experience defeat a host of rivals for the Republican nomination for president, and then eke out a narrow electoral college victory while losing the popular vote by over three million votes?



New Hampshire deserves some of the credit (or blame, depending on your perspective). Donald Trump’s path to power ran straight through the Granite State. Had Trump lost New Hampshire’s primary on the heels of his Iowa caucus defeat, he would very likely have lost the Republican nomination to a more mainstream candidate. New Hampshire is also a valuable case study through which to examine the impact of Trump’s election and administration on American politics. In the general election, Trump fought hard, though unsuccessfully, for the Granite State’s four electoral votes, but very probably cost then-Senator Kelly Ayotte re-election. Since Trump’s election, the state’s Democrats have seen a resurgence: They emerged from the political wilderness to win a series of local offices and special elections in 2017, and then took control of both houses of the state legislature and the state’s executive council in the 2018 elections, despite gerrymandered electoral districts designed to elect and protect Republican majorities. And as the home of the first presidential primary in the nation, New Hampshire will provide an early look at the candidates vying to replace Trump in 2020. Before focusing on Trump’s path through New Hampshire to the White House, it is necessary to step back and look at his 2016 run in the context of his prior dalliances with running for president, and the celebrity stature that meant those dalliances were taken seriously.

The Rise of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Donald Trump was not the first celebrity to run for office, or even run for president. Ronald Reagan was an actor before he became a campaign surrogate for Barry Goldwater and governor of California for two terms before winning the 1980 presidential election. Arnold Schwarzenegger was similarly twice elected governor of California, while comedian and satirist Al Franken spent a decade representing Minnesota in the United States Senate. Fred Thompson parlayed his role as counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee into a career as a memorable character actor before running for the Senate in his home state of Tennessee, then returned to acting as his last term was winding down in 2002 with a role on Law & Order. Others have taken their notoriety in one field and used that to launch a political career, like astronaut John Glenn or basketball star Bill Bradley. In all of these cases, however, their political ambitions represented a distinct stage in their careers; Fred Thompson and Arnold Schwarzenegger may have returned to acting after holding office, but


there was no real overlap between their political and performing lives. For Trump, however, his political ambitions, or pretentions thereto, ran parallel to his celebrity status. It is therefore necessary to examine the roots and nature of his celebrity persona, and the intersection of celebrity and politics, to understand how this celebrity somehow transformed him into a potential presidential contender. What makes someone a celebrity? Ramirez and Hagen describe a celebrity as “one whose ordinary activities receive media attention” (2018, 2). In other words, if an average citizen walks into a shop and buys a sandwich, that transaction is unlikely to merit any attention from anyone except the customer and the seller. But if a celebrity—a musician like Beyoncé or a superstar athlete like LeBron James or a movie star like Scarlett Johannson—walks into a shop and orders lunch it could very well be a news story, and that difference helps explain the difference between the average citizen on the one hand and Beyoncé or LeBron or Scarlett on the other. But the Beyoncés of the world don’t become Beyoncés simply because they have lovely singing voices, or even because they sell a lot of records. To become that sort of culture-spanning celebrity usually requires not just an audience but an apparatus of publicists, managers, agents, and the like, making a celebrity what Drake and Mira call “a mediated public persona” (2010, 52). In other words, to understand a particular celebrity it is necessary to understand something of the active crafting and maintenance of the public persona of their celebrity. Few celebrity personae are the result of as much obsessive imagineering as that of Donald Trump. The son of a Queens real estate developer, Trump emerged onto the public stage in the mid-1970s. An oft-quoted 1976 New York Times profile describes Trump as “tall, lean, and blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he looks ever so much like Robert Redford…he dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth ‘more than $200 million’” (Klemesrud 1976). This credulous early coverage of Trump portrayed him as a hard-charging young man whose wealth came from turning a sleepy outer-borough family business into a development powerhouse. But in fact his debut was carefully calculated with the guidance and support of the rest of the Trump family. The net worth Trump claimed as his own was actually the value of his father’s companies, and Trump and his projects were supported by a complex web of questionably legal trusts and loans from his father; indeed, much of Donald Trump’s financial beginnings originated in dubious and in some



cases illegal transfers of money and stock, as a 2018 New York Times investigation found (Barstow et al. 2018). These funds financed both Trump’s lavish lifestyle and his ever more public business ventures and development projects. And these projects increasingly featured Trump’s name as part of their appeal, chief among them Trump Tower, the luxury apartment building that also housed Trump and his business operations, and would later become the setting of both The Apprentice and Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition offices. Beyond real estate, Trump launched a series of projects like his Atlantic City casino and a shuttle airline alongside efforts like owning a team in the short-lived United States Football League. If some of these projects failed, well, there was always another about to launch and even the failures kept Trump’s name in the news. As the 1980s marched on, Trump’s profile grew beyond the confines of New York’s media market, and he came to be seen as an avatar of a particular kind of high-rolling, big-spending excess that stood out even among the Reagan era’s “greed is good” zeitgeist. It was that carefully cultivated image that led to Trump’s first foray into presidential politics, and to his first visit to New Hampshire as something of a potential candidate for office. Trump’s first visit to New Hampshire in October 1987 was in some ways not unlike his January 2014 appearance. A local Republican activist and local party vice chair named Mike Dunbar had started a “Draft Trump” movement that summer (Sargent 2014). This was not the first public chatter about a prominent business figure becoming a political candidate in the 1980s. Lee Iacocca, the chief executive officer of Chrysler, had to take himself out of the running in the face of similar draft efforts in 1984 and 1988, and in 1991 turned down an offer to be appointed to a Senate vacancy in his native Pennsylvania. Spy magazine once sketched a fanciful vision of an America presided over by Michael Eisner, then the president of Disney (Malanowski 1991). And it is important to remember who Donald Trump was in the summer of 1987: For most Americans, he was simply a well-known real estate and casino magnate. His tabloid future had yet to be written, and even his ghostwritten book of business advice, The Art of the Deal, had not been published at the time he spoke in Portsmouth. Mike Dunbar knew of Trump not from supermarket tabloid coverage of his adulterous exploits but from reading about his business activities in the Wall Street Journal every day (Kruse 2016). The reader may be forgiven for wondering whether the invitation to speak in New Hampshire as a potential presidential


candidate was appealing to Trump not just in terms of ego, but in terms of its potential to raise his profile and by extension that of his impending book release. Still, even a Trump not yet fully a denizen of the tabloids was a big draw in Portsmouth in 1987. The night of his talk, Trump helicoptered into Hampton airfield, then arrived by limousine at Yoken’s Restaurant, where he addressed members of the Portsmouth Rotary Club and the 300 additional people who crammed into the hall to see him; his remarks were bookended by standing ovations, and the press gaggle covering him was larger than the ones covering many of the other declared candidates running that year (Kruse 2016). Trump himself would in the end not join them—though the following year he presciently declared on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show that if he did run for president, he’d win (Friedersdorf 2016). While Trump did not run in 1988, it is hard to argue that his trip to New Hampshire and the curiosity about the prospect of a run had no impact on him. It was around this time that Trump began his metamorphosis from a well-known business figure to a tabloid sensation. For many (but not, as we shall see, all) Americans of a certain age, this was how they thought of Trump prior to the 2016 campaign—through the lens of his ugly divorce from Ivana Trump, his very public affair with, marriage to, and divorce from Marla Maples, his multiple bankruptcies and reversals of fortune from good to ill and back again. This was the era when Trump began to become a ubiquitous figure in popular culture, as he made a steady stream of cameos in hit movies like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Zoolander, and popular TV shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sex and the City, alongside appearances in more obscure outlets. At the same time, as the go-go Eighties turned into the grungy Nineties, Trump’s business empire lost some its luster as he faced a series of financial reversals and failures. Even here, as Trump seemed besieged by events beyond his control, he took an active hand in shaping his public image. As his first marriage was ending, Trump leaked details about his affair with Marla Maples to celebrity-focused news outlets by pretending to be his own (nonexistent) spokesman under the name “John Miller,” and tried to plant stories about (nonexistent) affairs Trump was supposedly having with celebrities like Kim Basinger, Madonna, and Carla Bruni. Sometimes he didn’t bother with the pretense, as when he called the New York Post to plant a story about Marla Maples that the tabloid ran with the front-page



headline “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had” (Brooke 2018). These stories did not just keep Trump’s name in the press, they also drew attention away from his business failures (D’Antonio 2016). Trump was attending to his image in ways that would improve public perceptions of him no matter what business reversals he encountered. Consider, for instance, Trump’s appearances on television shows and in movies. Several consistent themes run through them, all of which combine to create a much more favorable vision of Trump than one might have gotten from reading the financial pages. One of these themes is Trump the benefactor—someone who appears at the perfect moment to help familiar characters out of a jam, whether that be giving Macaulay Culkin directions in Home Alone 2, or giving Drew Carey and friends tickets to his box seats at a New York-Cleveland game on The Drew Carey Show, or advising the fictional New York City mayor on Spin City on writing his memoirs. Another theme was that Trump was an attractive and desirable man, as seen in his romantic dinner with Bo Derek in the exploitation film Ghosts Can’t Do It. And perhaps most important of all was the theme that Trump was a wealthy and successful and powerful person. This is the subtext of many of the “benevolent Trump” cameos, but one exceptionally bizarre appearance in particular stands out for what it says about how far down into the show-business barrel Trump was willing to go for the right portrayal. NightMan was a low-budget syndicated television series about a saxophone player who acquires superpowers after being struck by lightning (as one does) and uses these abilities to fight crime in between playing gigs. One episode featured a villain with the power to alter his appearance; on the run and in need of cash, this villain transforms himself into the mirror image of Donald Trump, thanks to a handy copy of The Art of the Deal. When the ersatz Trump walks into a bank, each teller’s jaw drops, one after the other, at the mere sight of Trump, and the manager is so overwhelmed to be in the presence of Trump that he gladly hands over thousands of dollars in cash, no questions asked, because when Donald Trump walks into your bank you give him whatever he says he needs. Given some of the bankruptcies and financial reversals he experienced in the 1990s, this scenario may have involved no small amount of wish fulfillment on Trump’s part. By the end of the 1990s, then, there were almost two Donald Trump’s—the flailing real estate mogul who seemed to be perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy, in bankruptcy, or emerging from bankruptcy, and having more and more trouble finding financing for his various


ventures. And then there was the Trump who showed up all over television and in movies—the instantly recognizable tycoon, dispensing favors and stiltedly delivered jokes. During these years, Trump’s interest in politics receded. He did not make much noise about running for president in either 1992 or 1996, though one must wonder what Trump thought as he watched Texas businessman Ross Perot run twice as the candidate of his own Reform Party. At the very least, he thought highly enough to make his own bid for the Reform Party’s nomination in 2000.

2000: Trump the Reformer In 1992, Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot entered the political fray as the candidate of the Reform Party, which he created and launched himself. Perot’s wealth made securing a line on the ballot in all 50 states, usually a daunting obstacle for third parties, a simple task, and his campaign, in which he pledged to bring Washington to heel with plain talk and common sense and business know-how, briefly put him ahead of both George Bush, then the incumbent president, and Bill Clinton, then the Democratic challenger, in some polls during the summer of 1992. Even after a bizarre interregnum in which Perot left the race for several months, in part due to his fears Republicans would try to disrupt his daughter’s wedding, there was enough resonance in his appeal for Perot to win 19% of the popular vote in the general election. Perot ran again in 1996, but earned just 8% of the vote against Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. There matters may have ended, but for the unlikely success of Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler who won 1998’s election for governor of Minnesota as the Reform Party candidate. Ventura’s victory renewed interest in the Reform Party, and particularly in its ballot line, which would once again appear on the ballot in all 50 states and be eligible for over $12 million in federal funding in 2000 (Kornacki 2018). Governor Ventura, now the Reform Party’s most visible figure (in retrospect, his election would be the party’s electoral high-water mark), sought to influence the party’s choice of a presidential candidate in 2000. His first target was Lowell Weicker, the maverick Republican senator who later ran for governor of Connecticut, and won, as an independent. But Weicker was hesitant, and the news of Ventura’s outreach to Weicker piqued the interest of Donald Trump, who still nursed a grudge over Weicker’s refusal to let Trump expand his casinos into Connecticut



(Squitieri 2015). Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan, who had run a strong challenge to President George Bush in the Republican primaries in 1992 and had been a force to be reckoned with in 1996, was also eyeing the Reform Party as he concluded that the support for George W. Bush among Republican party leaders was too much for him to overcome. And Trump, whose public image had some overlap with that of party founder Ross Perot, was an appealing figure to many of the party’s activists; at their July 1999 convention, Trump placed second behind Perot and well ahead of Weicker in a 2000 straw poll (Kornacki 2018). With Weicker fading and Buchanan becoming more of a factor, Trump began to take interest in a more active candidacy. He was helped in this effort by the fact that the other major candidate was Pat Buchanan, a Nixon and Reagan White House veteran who had in 1992 and 1996 embraced a brash populism with occasional bouts of nativism. Exacerbating matters was a recent book in which Buchanan had appeared to argue that Western governments shared responsibility with Hilter’s Germany for the start of World War II, and suggested that Nazi Germany had presented no military threat to the United States (Clines 1999). Buchanan’s rhetoric would have given any opponent ample fodder for criticism, but Trump applied the same media manipulation skills that he had used on the New York tabloids to attacking Buchanan. Shortly before Buchanan appeared on Face the Nation, Trump faxed CBS and demanded Buchanan be questioned about his “repugnant” views on World War II; when parts of the Trump fax were read on air, Trump entered the story as both the primary critic of and the leading alternative to Buchanan (Kornacki 2018). On another Sunday show, NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump declared himself a member of the Reform Party (Trump officially joins Reform Party 1999), while simultaneously denouncing Buchanan as a bigot. On CNN’s Larry King Live, Trump announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee (McFadden 1999). He also began to make meet-and-greet campaign appearances, though these were closely tied to Trump’s financial motives: He was being paid one million dollars to make ten speeches at motivational seminars held by self-help guru Tony Robbins, so Trump’s campaign stops were scheduled to coincide with those speeches (Useem 2000), and he had a new book, The America We Deserve, to promote as well (Squitieri 2015). While Trump’s presentation of himself as a more tolerant candidate than Buchanan might surprise people who remember Trump’s 2016 campaign and the policies he has pursued since


taking office, other aspects of his campaign now look like prototype versions of his 2016 campaign. He supported limits on immigration, proposed a one-time tax on the wealthy, and was critical of trade agreements like NAFTA. Stylistically, Trump presented himself as a straight-talking outsider, in contrast to the “moron politicians” in the Democratic and Republican Parties (Squitieri 2015). But as Trump was campaigning, the Reform Party was descending into chaos; Jesse Ventura—the most successful candidate in the party’s brief history—quit following a dispute over the party’s chairmanship, and Trump soon followed, leaving the nomination to Pat Buchanan. While Trump’s campaign ended prematurely, it does shed light on how Trump approached politics, particularly his motive for running. Jesse Useem, writing about Trump’s 2000 effort for Fortune magazine, argued that Trump believed that his status and wealth and fame made him “the top guy, and therefore worthy of the nation’s top office” (2000). Top guy or not, Trump was not going to find himself winning the presidency in 2000. Fortunately for him, a new opportunity was about to present itself.

The Apprentice The dawn of the twenty-first century did not usher in an era of flying cars and jetpacks. It did, however, see the start of what came to be known as “reality television.” On May 30, 2000, CBS began airing Survivor, a remake of a Swedish series called Expedition Robinson. Survivor saw 16 contestants dropped on a island off the coast of Borneo, where they were assigned to one of two teams and competed with one another to survive (hence the name) various challenges. At the end of each episode, the contestants voted one of their number off the island. The show became an instant cultural sensation and set off a frenzy among television networks to develop more reality shows. These shows were not just popular, they were also, compared to scripted dramas and comedies, quick and cheap to produce. Within a few years, the television landscape became glutted with reality shows, most of which adapted the competitive model of Survivor to other settings. On The Amazing Race, teams competed to race around the world; on Hell’s Kitchen, inept contestants sought the favor of mercurial British chef Gordon Ramsay; on Project Runway, fashion designers tried to advance to Fashion Week; on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, attractive young single people tried to



win the titular single person’s heart. Some involved deception: On Joe Millionaire, contestants competed to win the affection of a bachelor who was not, in fact, actually a millionaire. Others were bizarre: On Mister Personality, hosted by Monica Lewinsky—yes, the one you’re thinking of—a bachelorette had to choose from one of twenty suitors wearing full-face masks; on The Joe Schmoe Show, all but one “contestant” was an actor, and the goal of the show was to provoke reactions from the one actual contestant through increasingly bizarre challenges and situations. All of which is to say that, just a few years after the debut of Survivor, the reality craze led television networks and producers to search high and low for new material. Mark Burnett, the producer who had turned Expedition Robinson into Survivor, imagined a version of his show in an urban setting, with contestants competing for a job from a well-known business figure—a figure like Donald Trump. Trump turned out to be a natural as a television host; originally meant to play a minor role in each episode, network executives demanded more of him after seeing the first footage of early episodes and abandoned plans to have a new mogul host each season (Kranish and Fisher 2016). The Apprentice was always a limited and difficult concept to build a series around. While other reality shows could lure viewers with exotic locations or bizarre challenges or salacious content or demonstrations of creative skill, the contestants on The Apprentice were assigned simple business-related tasks to complete. As a sketch by the British comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb observed, there’s nothing interesting about watching skilled, trained professionals carry out these sorts of tasks successfully. The only way to inject enough drama into the show to attract an audience, Mitchell and Webb conclude, is to have unqualified contestants who “screw everything up” (Mitchell and Taylor 2009). This helps explain why The Apprentice eventually morphed into The Celebrity Apprentice, where contestants who fit a certain overbroad definition of “celebrity” now competed for the grand prize. This solved the problem Mitchell and Webb identified rather adroitly, since nobody expects country-music singer Clint Black or Roseanne Barr’s ex-husband Tom Arnold to have any particular business knowledge. For Trump, this shift in the show’s format had the benefit of placing him not just among celebrities, but passing judgment over them. Hosting The Apprentice was an ideal position for Trump, whose business empire was, then as now, always shakier and smaller than he wanted


it to appear, and whose cultural footprint had been in danger of shrinking to the point that he would become little more than “a garish figure of local interest—a punch line on Page Six” (Keefe 2019). While his salary was comparatively low for someone headlining a hit series— just $50,000 per episode in the first season (Susman 2004), far short of what the stars of successful scripted dramas and comedies were earning—each episode showcased Trump and his various business ventures, giving him what amounted to millions of dollars’ worth of free advertising every week (Kranish and Fisher 2016). And the show gave Trump his biggest-ever opportunity to shape his public image. To watch The Apprentice was to see a Trump without the divorces, scandals, bankruptcies, and business failures. Instead, viewers saw a savvy, decisive tycoon who incisively diagnosed where unsuccessful teams and contestants had gone wrong, before dismissing the loser with a jab of the hand and the words “You’re fired” (Nussbaum 2017). As the series went on, Trump brought his three oldest children into the show, giving him the chance to play a stern but fair patriarch as well as a successful business mogul. Of course, the Trump of The Apprentice did not really exist. It was not just that Trump was playing an exaggerated, made-for-TV version of himself, it was also that his decisions about which contestant should leave were often spur-of-the-moment, and less about how the contestants had fared in a given episode’s challenge than Trump’s own idiosyncratic beliefs about what audiences wanted (like keeping “a funny fat guy around” because doing so would be “good for ratings” [Stevenson 2016]), and forced producers to scramble to edit the raw footage of each episode to make Trump’s decision appear sensible (Keefe 2019). But most viewers at home—especially those whose impression of Trump did not extend much farther than “rich guy from New York”— had no idea any of this was happening. Instead, their image of Trump expanded to encompass Trump the shrewd and savvy tycoon, before whom aspiring contestants groveled for favor (Perlstein 2015). In 2016, a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention cited the show as crucial to her support for Trump, because its celebrity contestants “showed [Trump] respect” (Perlstein 2017). But since this image was being put forth on a reality show, few political commentators and observers—folks who were more likely to watch prestige cable dramas like The Wire and Mad Men than a reality show on a broadcast network—realized it existed; at most, they were aware of The ­ Apprentice as simply Trump’s latest hustle.



2012: Trump the Birther and Almost Candidate In retrospect, it was sadly inevitable that the election of the United States’ first African-American president would prompt a backlash among those who were uncomfortable, or worse, at such a visible sign of a shifting social and racial order. Almost from the moment he became a statewide candidate for office, Barack Obama found himself bedeviled by bizarre and groundless claims about his life and his background— allegations that he was secretly a Muslim, or that he had not actually written either of his books, or that he was somehow a Communist, or that he had not been born in Hawaii but in Kenya. At the root of the last of these absurd claims was an obvious and desperate racial fear: If Obama’s citizenship could somehow be invalidated, he would then be ineligible to serve as president and his administration would somehow be annulled. That Obama’s mother was an American citizen, and that he would thus have been an American citizen regardless of where he had been born, was of little concern to “birthers” (as the proponents of this conspiracy theory soon came to be known), as was the absence of any constitutional mechanism to remove a president on the grounds of where he had been born. Once upon a time, such nonsense would have remained the stuff of crudely mimeographed pamphlets and the fringes of late night radio and public access television. But twenty-first-century social media allowed the birthers a much greater ­ reach than they might have had in a different era, and they made enough noise that candidate Obama posted to his campaign web site a copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate—the “short form” certificate that Hawaii ­supplied to those born there on request when they were needed to apply for marriage licenses and the like. In a move that would make Leon Festinger beam with pride, birthers quickly declared that this proof of Obama’s Hawaiian birth was in fact proof that he was hiding something, since he had failed to release the “long-form” version of his birth certificate. During and after the 2008 election, the birther chatter continued, with some birthers lobbying presidential electors to vote for someone other than Obama (Alexander 2016). As birtherism burbled its way into mainstream political discussion, it found its largest and loudest proponent in Donald Trump. Trump began to question Obama’s birth certificate and background in media appearances in the spring of 2011, in venues ranging from the radio show of ultraconservative host Laura Ingraham (Sykes 2017) to ABC’s daytime


panel show The View (Marr 2011) to Fox News (Barbaro 2016). At the same time, Trump once again began flirting with a presidential campaign, motivated in part by surveys showing him leading the rest of the Republican field precisely because of his promulgation of birther conspiracy theories—theories which 23% of Republicans said they wanted their party’s nominee to endorse (Haberman 2011a). Trump even went so far as to claim that he had hired “investigators” to travel to Hawaii and investigate Obama’s birth, though he never offered any proof of the existence of these investigators or shared their supposed findings (Mooney 2011). The extent to which Trump actually believed Obama had been born somewhere other than Hawaii is unclear. Trump’s first remarks on the subject were that he had “a little doubt, just a little” about Obama (Parker and Eder 2016). But thanks to the fame he had spent decades cultivating, his foray into the birther swamp made media outlets take notice and give continued coverage to his escalating comments on the matter. As mainstream a reporter as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos brought the question up, twice, in an interview with President Obama, because Trump’s constant discussion of the matter meant it was now “out there” and thus fair game (Halperin and Heileman 2013, 10). Over five days in April and May, the Trump 2012 balloon burst. On April 27, Obama released the long-form birth certificate that had been the subject of so much feverish speculation by birthers. Some cable networks presented a split-screen of Obama speaking to the White House press corps on one side of the screen and Trump arriving in Portsmouth, New Hampshire as part of his not-yet-official campaign on the other (Halperin and Heileman 2013, 20), and Trump took credit for getting Obama to release it (Wilgoren 2011). That may have encouraged Obama and his speechwriters to dedicate a section of his remarks at that Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner to skewering Trump, who attended the dinner as a guest of Lally Weymouth, daughter of one publisher of the Washington Post and mother of another. Taking aim at Trump, Obama compared the hunt for his birth certificate to claims that the moon landing was hoaxed and that a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 before mocking the absurd challenges faced by the contestants on Celebrity Apprentice (Grove 2011). It was a humiliating experience for Trump, and many armchair psychologists have since wondered to what extent it affected Trump’s decision to run in 2016 (Wang 2017). Late in the evening of May 1, President Obama



announced that American special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the architect of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, an event which had nothing at all to do with Trump but perhaps further emphasized the distance between the gravity of the office and Trump’s birtherism. As the birther issue faded back to the fever swamps of true believers now insisting that the long-form certificate was a hoax, Trump’s poll position fell; a mid-May survey found him tied for fifth place with Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman who’d run more than once before (Haberman 2011b), and on May 16, he announced that he would not be a candidate for president in 2012 (Dionne 2011). Most observers, having lived through several of Trump’s flirtations with running for president by this point, figured this was the end of Trump’s political ambitions. Even when he did candidate-like things, like visit New Hampshire two years before the 2016 primary, few noticed or took him very seriously. But Trump was not done with politics; he took to Twitter, the social network through which users cast brief missives (then limited to 140 characters, and to 280 today) onto the electronic waters, and from this perch he became a political gadfly, offering opinions on current events, usually mixed with criticisms of President Obama, and occasionally brought up birther and birther-adjacent conspiracy theories. While many had thought 2012 had ended Trump’s political fortunes, Trump had made himself enough of a fixture in conservative politics that Mitt Romney sought and won Trump’s endorsement during the 2012 primaries (Weiner and Rucker 2012). And as we now know, Trump’s interest in a presidential campaign would turn out to be stronger than ever as 2016 approached. You might not have realized that if you were only listening to the content of his speech at Politics & Eggs in 2014. But if you were paying attention to how many people turned out to see him, who thought that a breakfast with The Donald was at the very least a spectacle and an opportunity that they could not pass up, you might have thought that there was something going on that was worth keeping an eye on. And through a series of unlikely outcomes and events, you would find yourself proven right.

The Plan of the Book This book, like many others, is an effort to understand the 2016 election and its impact on American politics. Unlike other accounts, it does so by focusing on New Hampshire. Why look at Donald Trump’s rise


and impact through the lens of a single, small state in Northern New England? There are several reasons. The first is that New Hampshire continues to exercise an outsize impact on American politics, thanks to its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Without his win in the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump would likely never have become the Republicans’ nominee in 2016, and thus never have been in a position to win the general election. And Trump’s nomination merits more attention than most. One of the leading explanations of presidential nomination contest outcomes, the “Party Decides” model advanced in the book of the same name (Cohen et al. 2008), argues that the leaders of political parties use their influence to nudge rank-and-file primary voters and caucus-goers toward their preferred candidate. In 2012, for instance, elected Republicans by and large lined up behind Mitt Romney as their party’s most electable option, and GOP primary voters generally followed suit (Parsneau and Galdieri 2014). In 2016, few Republican leaders supported Trump and many actively opposed him, yet Trump vanquished a large field of opponents and won the Republican nomination. Understanding how Trump won, and how the efforts of so many other Republicans failed, in the first primary state will shed light not just on Trump but on our understanding of American political parties in the early part of the twenty-first century. Another reason is that New Hampshire is one of the small number of swing states in presidential elections—those states where the parties are both strong enough that each candidate in a presidential race dedicates time and resources to campaigning there. New Hampshire is also unusual in that it is the only remaining swing state in New England, a region that has slowly shifted its support in presidential elections from solidly Republican to solidly Democratic over the last century or so (Reiter and Stonecash 2011). Trump won in the electoral college, despite losing the national popular vote, thanks to narrow victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, but he lost the Granite State to Hillary Clinton by just 3000 votes. Why did Trump falter in New Hampshire while he was winning what looked like more solidly Democratic states in the industrial Midwest? New Hampshire is also an ideal place to examine the impact of Trump’s election. In 2017, Republicans held a “trifecta” of the governor’s office, the New Hampshire state senate, and the New Hampshire House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years. But while the state’s Republicans began moving forward on their long-deferred



policy priorities, Democrats began a round of protest and organization, and saw a series of victories in special and local elections culminate in a strikingly successful midterm election in 2018. Democrats flipped control of both houses of the state legislature and won control of the state’s executive council, despite redistricting maps that had been designed to make it hard for Democrats to win them, and came closer than many expected in the governor’s race. Studying how Democrats came back from their dispiriting 2016 election showing in New Hampshire will shed light on the 2018 election more generally. Finally, studying the impact of Trump on New Hampshire means studying the impact of Trump on the 2020 presidential race. In 2020, Democrats for the first time in several election cycles have no obvious front-runner and no sitting president seeking a second term. How did Trump’s election affect which candidates did and did not decide to run? Did Trump, himself elected with no government experience, lower the bar for entry to the presidential race? Will party leaders coalesce behind a preferred candidate during the “invisible primary” or will Democratic voters upend expectations as Republicans did in 2016? On the Republican side, speculation about a primary challenge to Trump has been rampant since the 2016 election. Will any of the potential alternatives to Trump decide to enter the race? How has the state Republican party aligned itself with Trump, and do the party’s dissidents have enough leverage to endanger Trump’s chances of renomination and re-election?

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Donald Trump and the 2016 New Hampshire Primary

Abstract  How did Donald Trump, whom most Republican leaders believed was wrong on many key issues and dangerously unelectable, win the 2016 nomination? Trump was helped by press coverage that did not treat him as a serious candidate, by a large field of opponents who spent more time attacking each other than they did him, by a lack of clear signals from party leaders, and a series of strategic blunders by his opponents. Additionally, Trump’s issue positions allowed him to appeal to both hardline conservatives and the moderate primary voters who play an outsized role in Republican presidential nomination contests. Keywords  2016 New Hampshire primary · Endorsements · Presidential nominations · Republican Party · Donald Trump To appreciate how crucial New Hampshire was in Donald Trump’s path from Trump Tower to the White House, take a moment to imagine how the 2016 primaries might have played out in the absence of New Hampshire. They would have begun the same way, with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas winning the Iowa caucuses, with Trump in second place and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida a very close third. The next battleground would then have been the South Carolina primary, in a state with a long history of supporting socially conservative Republican candidates like Cruz. Absent his distant third-place showing in New Hampshire, © The Author(s) 2020 C. J. Galdieri, Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics, Palgrave Studies in US Elections,



Cruz might have been able to parlay his Iowa win into a second consecutive victory in South Carolina. Or perhaps Rubio, who had skillfully appealed to both social conservatives and established party leaders throughout his career, would have become the favorite of those party leaders, who would then have closed ranks behind him and helped him become the preferred alternative to both Cruz and Trump. If Cruz prevailed in South Carolina, Republican Party leaders and officeholders who were skeptical of Trump might well have put their personal distaste for Cruz aside and rallied behind him in enough numbers to make him the party’s eventual nominee. Or perhaps they would have redoubled their support for Rubio in subsequent primaries and caucuses. Even if they did not, after two consecutive losses, Trump’s campaign may have simply come to a natural and unremarkable end, and Trump himself would then have become just one in a long line of presidential candidates who had a moment in the sun early on but faltered once the primaries began, like Howard Dean in 2004 or Rick Perry in 2012 or even George Romney in 1968. Instead, the presence of New Hampshire shortly after Iowa on the primary calendar rescued the Trump campaign. Unlike Iowa, with its Republican Party full of socially conservative evangelical Christian activists, New Hampshire is among the least religious states in America. Its Republican Party has its fair share of activists, but is ancestrally part of the long-atrophied Eastern establishment of the party. Many New Hampshire Republicans are more interested in keeping taxes low (or nonexistent, in the cases of state income and sales taxes) and government small than in banning abortion or in repealing same-sex marriage (a bill to do so failed to win the support of even a majority of Republican legislators in 2011). New Hampshire’s primary voters in both parties tend to put little stock in the Iowa caucus results. In 2008, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, was unable to capitalize on his Iowa caucus win and instead saw John McCain win the New Hampshire primary and the Republican nomination. A similar dynamic played out with Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney in 2012. Republican primary voters in New Hampshire are also not necessarily impressed by front-runners; they gave John McCain an upset win over George W. Bush in 2000 and flirted with Pat Buchanan in 1996 and 1992. As a result, Cruz found himself, in the wake of his upset victory in Iowa, playing on electoral territory for which he was poorly suited and which offered Trump a second chance at kicking off the primaries with a win. For the more



mainstream conservatives in the race, New Hampshire presented both an opportunity and a risk. For Marco Rubio, who placed third in Iowa, the stakes were exceptionally high: New Hampshire represented a chance to emerge as the leading mainstream alternative to Trump. For the rest of the mainstream conservatives, New Hampshire could only launch them into success in subsequent primaries if Rubio stumbled. This chapter examines not just how Trump won the primary, but how his opponents lost it. But to understand that, it is necessary to understand why New Hampshire has its primary, and what that means for American political parties seeking to nominate candidates for president.

Becoming First in the Nation In many ways, New Hampshire’s position on the presidential primary calendar is an accident of history. In 1916 it began holding a presidential primary, as part of a surge of primaries created during the Progressive Era. That year, Indiana came earlier on the primary schedule and Minnesota voted on the same day, but the cost of holding low-turnout primaries led those states to end or push back their primaries by 1920 (Palmer 1997). New Hampshire’s primary then became a regular step on the road to the White House, but did not achieve its modern position of importance until 1952, when each party saw a momentous primary. On the Republican side, moderate internationalists led a draft effort that won the primary for the General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and drew him into an active candidacy. On the Democratic side, Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee defeated President Harry Truman, leading Truman to announce he would not seek another term in office. From there, New Hampshire’s primary developed a reputation for surprise outcomes, like the write-in campaign that led Henry Cabot Lodge to win the Republican primary in 1964, or Eugene McCarthy’s strong showing as an antiwar candidate challenging President Lyndon Johnson in 1968; this perception continues to this day, thanks to candidates who won upset victories over better-known, better-funded candidates (like Jimmy Carter in 1976 or Gary Hart in 1984 or John McCain in 2000 or Bernie Sanders in 2016) or came back from a loss in Iowa (like Mike Dukakis in 1988 or Hillary Clinton in 2008) or parlayed a strong second place showing into an eventual nomination (like George McGovern in 1972 or Bill Clinton in 1992). While New Hampshire’s position early in the primary season is often the subject of grumbling from other states, the


Granite State has so far fended off challenges to its position and in the twenty-first century both major parties seem to be at peace with it. As the home of the first primary, New Hampshire played a key role in Donald Trump’s political survival in 2016. That role also provides an opportunity to examine how Trump won the primary and his party’s nomination. Trump was no run-of-the-mill candidate; in the months before the primary he was viewed by many Republican leaders as wrong on key policies (including Medicare, taxes, health care, and foreign policy) and dangerously unelectable. He became the first candidate since George McGovern won the Democratic nomination in 1972 to be nominated despite such visible and voluble opposition from so much of his party. McGovern was able to do so in large part by understanding and exploiting the new rules of the nomination process that were in place for the first time in 1972. But what explains Trump’s ability to do the same in 2016 without McGovern’s savvy knowledge of his party’s reformed nomination process? In the decades since McGovern, leaders in both parties learned how to encourage voters to support whichever candidate in a given year they deemed to be both acceptable in policy terms and electable in the general election, through such mechanisms as endorsements, fund-raising, and private encouragement and discouragement (Cohen et al. 2008). But that did not happen in the Republicans’ nomination contest in 2016. Was that because they tried and failed to stop Trump, because they did not try to stop Trump, or for some other reason? A close look at the New Hampshire primary of 2016 helps shed light on the puzzle of Trump’s nomination. First, however, the political landscape and cast of characters of the 2016 nomination contest must be understood.

American Politics on the Brink of 2016 As the 2016 campaign season drew near, Republicans felt optimistic about their chances. They were coming off a midterm election in which they had exceeded their wildest expectations, winning nine Senate seats and control of that body for the first time since 2006, expanding their majority in the House, and picking up unexpected victories in governor’s races in Democratic states like Illinois and Maryland. Further fueling their optimism was the fact that President Barack Obama’s second term was winding down; since World War II, only George Bush in 1988 had managed to win a third consecutive presidential term for his party. Thanks to the Republicans’ successes in 2010 and 2014, there were many Republican



officeholders in a position to seek the party’s presidential nomination. However, several factors complicated matters even before Donald Trump became a candidate. One was the sheer number of candidates, itself a sign that the influence of party leaders was weaker than it once had been. These candidates can generally be considered as part of one of several groups. The first group of candidates were more or less traditional, mainstream conservatives with ties to what is often described as the “Republican establishment.” In the wake of the 2014 midterms, the leading figure in this group was former governor Jeb Bush of Florida, the son of President George Bush and the brother of President George W. Bush. If not for a narrow loss in the governor’s race in 1994, it may well have been Jeb, not George W., who ran for president in 2000; if not for sharing a last name with his brother, who had left office with dismal approval ratings and the country in dire economic shape and mired in two unpopular wars, Jeb may well have run in 2012. Bush in many ways looked like an ideal candidate for president. He had governed a crucial swing state for two terms and moved policy there in a conservative direction, and was able to tap into a rich fund-raising vein. He was a known quantity to party leaders, and he held the potential to boost Republicans’ appeal to Hispanic voters; his wife Columba was born in Mexico and Jeb spoke fluent Spanish. And his party had not won a presidential election without someone named “Bush” on the ticket since 1972. When Bush began acting like a candidate early in 2015, he did so from a position of presumed political and electoral strength. When Bush spoke at Politics & Eggs in April of 2015, he did so before a packed room—though the crowd was nonetheless smaller than the one that had turned out for Donald Trump fifteen months earlier. But from the start of his campaign, Bush struggled to become the dominant front-runner he clearly expected to be: An April poll, taken before anyone took the idea of a Trump campaign seriously, found Bush modestly leading the large field with just 17% of respondents supporting him (Agiesta 2015). Whatever Bush’s appeal to the inner circles of the GOP, he had not sought office in his own right since his re-election campaign in 2002. For many rank-and-file voters he was not the familiar and steady figure many party elders found him to be, but an obscure one whose last name was a reminder of his brother’s difficult and troubled tenure in office. Bush also struggled thanks to the number of rivals he faced, not just for the nomination but for the support of those seeking a candidate with establishment ties and a record of electoral and policy success. One such candidate was Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, for whom Bush


had been something of a mentor when Rubio was a young state legislator. Rubio gained national attention in 2010, when he muscled Florida’s governor, Charlie Crist, out of the state’s Republican primary for United States Senate; Crist left the GOP and ran as an independent, and Rubio defeated him and the Democratic candidate in a three-candidate general election. Rubio was young—just 44 when he launched his 2016 candidacy—and the son of Cuban emigrants, which many Republicans thought would appeal to voters in a post-Obama America, and his speeches had an optimistic and upbeat tone that drew on his parents’ experiences to make the case for Rubio’s version of the American dream. However, Rubio’s record was not spotless in the eyes of conservative activists; he had in 2013 worked on a bipartisan immigration reform bill that provoked a backlash from immigration hardliners and was never brought to a vote on the floor of the House after passing in the Senate. Less substantively, but perhaps more memorably, Rubio had drawn groans when he paused during his response to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address to take an awkward drink from a bottle of water. Also in this group was Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey. Where Bush was wonkish and Rubio was optimistic, Christie was pugnacious. Early in his first term as governor, Christie seemed to go out of his way to provoke confrontations with critics and protestors, and his staff even uploaded some of these to YouTube as a way of building Christie’s brand as a take-no-prisoners teller of uncomfortable truths. A favorite of cable and late night talk shows, Christie had been a finalist for the vice presidential slot with Mitt Romney in 2012 and his landslide re-election in 2013 was taken as the unofficial start of a 2016 campaign; cable news networks carried his victory speech live. But Christie’s ambitions suffered a serious blow when it was revealed that two of his top advisers had ordered the closing of lanes connecting the George Washington Bridge to Fort Lee, New Jersey, causing massive traffic jams for the town’s commuters, after its Democratic mayor declined to endorse Christie in his bid for a second term as governor. While many thought this scandal was the end of Christie’s national ambitions, he was determined to run in 2016, even as the fallout from the bridge scandal tarnished his image and hampered his fund-raising. Christie found himself planning a campaign with a lower budget than once planned, and one that depended on a strong showing in New Hampshire to survive (Isenstadt 2015). Two more governors, both elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010, rounded out this group of candidates. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, had run for president once before, in 2000, while he was a member



of the House of Representatives. Kasich was known for his prickly personality—he wrote in a memoir about his efforts to get the movie Fargo removed from the shelves of Blockbuster because of a gory scene involving a wood chipper (Kasich 2006)—and his occasional drifts away from his party’s orthodoxy, such as his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act. The second was Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, whose efforts to weaken labor unions in his state had prompted a tremendous backlash and a recall election, both of which he survived. By the time Walker launched his campaign he had won a third statewide election and made a splash at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). These five alone would have made for a manageable primary field, but there were many others who ran as well. The next tranche of candidates consisted of three social conservatives, who put social issues at the center of their campaigns. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was a first-term legislator who had led the Republicans’ 2013 shutdown of the federal government in a last-ditch attempt to keep President Obama from fully implementing the Affordable Cart Act, the 2010 law which had become a white whale for many Republican candidates at all levels of government. Joining him in this group were two candidates who had each run for president once before. Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas had won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania narrowly won Iowa in 2012. But neither had been able to parlay those wins into support from party leaders or the Republican nomination. Another group consisted of candidates like Trump, who lacked traditional political resumes. Ben Carson was a brain surgeon of considerable renown; his work on separating conjoined twins had made him famous enough to play himself in a Farrelly Brothers movie, and his memoir was adapted into a television movie starring Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. In 2013, Carson had “visibly annoyed” President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast with remarks criticizing the Affordable Care Act, and found himself lionized by conservative activists and media outlets (Chait 2015). Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard, had the most political experience of this group: She had been a campaign surrogate for John McCain in 2008 and lost a Senate race in California in 2010. In a class by himself was Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose libertarian leanings had led a Time magazine cover to dub him “The Most Interesting Man in Politics” in 2014. The son of former Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who had most recently run for president as a libertarian


gadfly in the 2008 and 2012 Republican primaries, Rand Paul hoped to appeal to both his father’s supporters and more mainstream Republicans. Finally, a number of candidates who had run before and fared poorly, or contemplated running but never had before, joined the fray, including former governor George Pataki of New York, former governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, former governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia, and former governor Rick Perry of Texas. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who had spent years in the national spotlight without indicating much interest in running for president, suddenly decided to do so in 2016. Taken as a whole, the Republican field was both very large and had trouble attracting the interest of party leaders. Of the mainstream conservatives, none did much to inspire support and many gave party leaders little reason to support them instead of one of the others, from Bush’s lackluster start to Christie’s scandal to Rubio’s underinvestment in his campaign. Of the social conservatives, two had run before and been found wanting in the eyes of elite party actors, and the third was distinctly unpopular with his colleagues in the Senate. Most of the rest of the candidates either lacked any sort of governing or executive experience, or failed to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, or both. Donald Trump took advantage of this state of affairs in the early stages of his candidacy. As a celebrity, and particularly as a celebrity few took seriously or saw as a viable candidate, he stood out from the rest of the large but lackluster field in a way he would not have with a group of stronger candidates. Trump therefore dominated press coverage of the race from the moment he became a candidate on June 16, 2015, and this media focus on Trump helped fuel his early rise in polls of Republican primary voters (Sides 2015). How did Trump turn this early polling bump into a sustained position at the top of the Republican field without flaming out, the way that candidates like Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, and Herman Cain had in the 2012 race (Sides and Vavreck 2013)? Part of the answer lay in the nature of New Hampshire politics, and in part with the campaigns his fellow Republican candidates ran.

New Hampshire and Ideology In recent decades the Republican Party has come to be dominated by its conservative wing, to the point that those Republican officeholders often described as moderates are in fact quite conservative and look centrist



only in comparison to their more conservative fellow party members. The party’s steady rightward march results, at least in part, from religious conservatives’ engagement in and strength within the party; it is these voters who ensure that Republicans with any hopes of national ambitions oppose legalized abortion, same-sex marriage, legal rights and protections for transgender Americans, regulations on firearms, and hold their preferred positions on host of other social issues. This makes New Hampshire something of an odd fit in the primary calendar. The Granite State is one of the least religious states in the union (Newport 2014), making it tough territory for social conservatives and culture warriors. In the 2016 primary campaign, many of the candidates for the Republican nomination downplayed these issues when they came to New Hampshire; while they were happy to tout their opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion in Iowa and South Carolina, in New Hampshire they tended to focus more on the economy and foreign policy. Social issues were downplayed unless a voter asked a direct question about one (Khalid 2015). Nevertheless, they came to New Hampshire; its early position on the schedule means that its winner receives an enormous amount of attention and its losers face enormous pressure to end their campaigns or explain to supporters just how they plan to win the nomination anyway. For the top tier of traditional conservatives, New Hampshire was their best chance at an early win; for the more obscure candidates, a strong showing in New Hampshire would defy expectations and show that they were competitive after all. But New Hampshire was not just where the traditional conservatives would seek to springboard their way to the nomination; it was also fertile territory for Donald Trump. As someone who had never held office, Trump had a liberty to reinvent his positions on issues in ways that more normal candidates for president would envy. On immigration, he took the hardest line possible; once a candidate has committed himself to an impenetrable wall along the US–Mexico border, there is no real room for a more extreme position. But on other issues, Trump sounded quite moderate and well to the left of the other Republican candidates. When asked about health care at an early debate, Trump stated that while repealing the Affordable Care Act was important, so was ensuring that individuals with pre-existing conditions remain protected, and that no one would “die on the streets” for lack of health care if Trump were elected (Team Fix 2016). In another debate, Trump attacked Scott Walker over the quality of Wisconsin’s schools, roads, and


budget (Glenza 2015). From the start of his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised that he would not cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, positions that were starkly different from the austerity budgets and other proposals from Paul Ryan and many other Republicans during the Obama years (Jagannathan 2017). And perhaps most strikingly of all, he criticized the United States’ military involvement in Iraq as a mistake that had served no good purpose—a dramatic departure from over a decade’s GOP orthodoxy about foreign policy and the use of military force (Prokop 2015). Trump was able to take these positions in no small part because he had never before had to seek the votes of a Republican primary electorate nor worry about a primary challenge to win another term in office. Since he had no real political track record, Trump could simply invent or adopt whatever stance was most advantageous for him in any given political moment. Trump’s libertine ways, including three marriages and a long history of infidelity, may also have allowed those who wanted to see him as something other than an orthodox conservative to do so. None of this is meant to suggest that Trump was some sort of secret liberal; Trump the candidate defied easy placement on a traditional left-to-right ideological axis. This may have made him infuriating to those who want ideological consistency from their candidates for public office. But it also meant that Trump could, to an extent, be all things to many, if not all, Republican primary voters. Doctrinaire conservatives could look at his immigration proposals or his newfound opposition to abortion and see him as one of their own where it mattered; self-described moderates could take note of his critiques of other Republican candidates and reach much the same conclusion. And an underappreciated fact of Republican presidential nominations is the impact that self-described moderate voters have throughout the primary season (Olsen and Scala 2015). Exit polling shows that in the primary, Trump beat John Kasich among the 72% of voters describing themselves as “moderate” or “somewhat conservative,” while at the same time beating Ted Cruz among self-described “very conservative” voters. Ideological ambiguity was not the only thing that helped Trump win the New Hampshire primary; he also had help from the actions and missteps of other Republican candidates and party leaders. Chief among these was a simple failure of many in New Hampshire and beyond the state’s borders to take Trump seriously as a candidate.



Defeat and a Restoration of Normalcy Are Just Around the Corner Simply put, almost no one expected that Trump would win the primary, and almost everyone believed that if he did, he would lose the general election in a landslide. This in some ways upended the thinking of cable news networks, for instance, which began to cover many of Trump’s rallies live; since he was more of a celebrity on a fool’s errand than a potential president, it was fine to do so. The Huffington Post took the opposite tack of refusing to cover Trump’s campaign outside of its entertainment section, until his poll numbers made it clear they had no choice but to do so (Kludt 2017; Byers 2015). Many New Hampshire Republican leaders shared similar sentiments. John Sununu, the former governor who had also served as George Bush’s White House chief of staff, suggested in July of 2015 that Trump would start to fade as soon as voters started “taking a measure of the man” (Strauss 2015), while Tom Rath, the former state attorney general who has advised a long series of Republican presidential candidates stated that “sooner or later, attention will come back” to the other, more mainstream candidates (Tumulty et al. 2015). Anthony Scaramucci, who ironically would serve briefly in the Trump White House, called the early interest in Trump a “summer love” that would fade come the fall (Goldmacher and Isenstadt 2015). Throughout the months leading up to the primary, one prognosticator after another predicted that Trump was about to flame out, even as his poll numbers put him ahead of the rest of the pack and held steady, and even as Republican leaders showed no signs of being able to stop him. Surely his remarks attacking Senator John McCain’s military service would end his campaign. Surely the debates would expose Trump as outof-step with Republican primary voters. Surely the party would coalesce around a single alternative to Trump. Surely a loss in Iowa would end his campaign. But none of these prophecies came to pass. It was not that there was no opposition to Trump within the party. The Koch brothers, whose money and organization helped fuel Republicans’ resurgence during the Obama administration, denied Trump access to their events, data, and organization (Vogel and Martel 2015). Fergus Cullen, a former chair of the state GOP, filed a challenge that tried (and failed) to have Trump removed from the Republican primary ballot (DiStaso 2015). But these and other efforts were scattered, and none rose to the level of, for instance, excluding Trump from the debate stage by


crafting inclusion criteria that would keep celebrity candidates with no experience in government off the debate state (perhaps because doing so would also exclude the only woman and the only African-American candidate running). Furthermore, the opposition that was out there lacked direction; it was anti-Trump, but not pro-anybody else. An examination of endorsements at the national and New Hampshire levels makes this clear.

Scattered Endorsements Endorsements by elected officials offer further support to the idea that the super-sized field of candidates hampered Republican leaders’ ability to coordinate their support behind a preferred candidate. This was readily apparent at the national level. An analysis of endorsements by sitting governors, senators, and members of the House of Representatives found that few of these officials—barely one-third of the group— endorsed any candidate before voting started. While Jeb Bush received most of those endorsements, he stopped receiving new ones almost two months before voting started, thanks in part to lackluster debate performances during which he showed a particular incapacity to respond to attacks from Trump. Once voting began, these officials began to endorse Marco Rubio; once Rubio ended his campaign, they moved to Ted Cruz. But all of this was too little, too late; while party leaders scrambled from one alternative to another, Trump was winning primaries and delegates. Contrast this to 2012’s contest, when Mitt Romney was the clear leader in endorsements from the start of his campaign through the day he secured his nomination (Galdieri and Parsneau 2016). This inability to decide on an alternative to Trump was similarly on display among elected officials in New Hampshire. Table 2.1 compares how Republicans in the state legislature endorsed candidates in 2012 to their endorsements in 2016. In the lead-up to the 2012 New Hampshire primary, almost 64% of Republican members of the state house of representatives endorsed a candidate. Nearly 40% of these endorsements went to Mitt Romney, the front-runner and eventual nominee; the rest were scattered among Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. In the state senate, all but two of 19 Republican members endorsed a candidate, and 11 of these endorsements went to Romney. Romney also enjoyed the support of Kelly Ayotte, then the state’s junior United States Senator, and all four of the Republicans on the state’s executive council, including future governor



Table 2.1  Endorsements by New Hampshire state legislators in 2012 and 2016 Republican primaries 2012 State senate Cain Gingrich Huntsman Paul (Ron) Perry Romney Santorum

No endorsement Total

1 3 11 2

2016 State house 9 16 12 26 28 73 21





Bush Christie Cruz Fiorina Gilmore Kasich Pataki Paul (Rand) Rubio Santorum Trump No endorsement Total

State senate

State house

2 2

1 19 18 24

2 1 1 2 1 1

7 29


2 18 120



Chris Sununu. In other words, 2012 saw a Republican Party in the Granite State whose elected officials believed it was worth the time and trouble to make a choice among their party’s candidates, and the bulk of their support went to the candidate who would go on to win the party’s nomination. This is consistent with a campaign in which party leaders successfully nudge primary voters toward a preferred candidate through public and formal demonstrations of support. In 2016, however, the endorsement picture was very different. In the months leading up to the primary, only 118 of the 238 Republicans in the state house of representatives—just under half of these members— endorsed a presidential candidate. And these endorsements did not point in a consistent direction. Rand Paul received the most endorsements with not quite a quarter of them (24.6%), followed by Carly Fiorina (20.3%) and Chris Christie (16.1%). Ted Cruz and Donald Trump tied with 15.3% of these endorsements. In the state senate, a similarly muddied picture emerged. All but one of the thirteen Republicans in the state senate made an endorsement, but no clear signal to voters emerged from these endorsements. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and George Pataki each received two endorsements, and Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio each received one.


As for the biggest names in the state party, neither Kelly Ayotte, seeking re-election, nor Chris Sununu, running for governor, made an endorsement in 2016, either; why risk upsetting Republican voters by picking the wrong candidate in an election year? Sununu’s father, the former governor, likewise remained neutral. In 2012, Republican primary voters received a generally clear message from the state’s Republican officials that boosted the candidacy of Mitt Romney more than it boosted those of his rivals. In 2016, however, the message was much more muddled, with fewer endorsements made in the first place, and with those endorsements scattered among a broad selection of candidates. Not helping matters any was the fact that some of the biggest figures in the state party remained neutral, in part out of a desire to avoid unnecessarily alienating any voters in advance of their own primary elections later in the year. This collision of political ambition and the political calendar further hampered party leaders’ ability to coordinate their support. Here, of course, the size of the Republican field made life harder for state Republican leaders. While every single Republican who could have run did not, those who did appeared to be in no hurry to make party leaders’ lives easier by ending their campaigns. The one exception was Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, who ended his campaign abruptly in the fall of 2015 just 71 days after it began (Ostermeier 2015). Walker said he was hoping to help “clear the field” for a conservative candidate to rise to the top of the field and encouraged his now-former rivals to do the same (Stoklos 2015). But none of the major candidates followed Walker’s lead, and few of the minor candidates left the race before the primary.

How the Candidates Ran The folklore of the New Hampshire primary has always held that faceto-face, retail politics is crucial to winning the primary. Grassroots campaigning is central to the legends of the candidates who came from nowhere to win the primary, or who succeeded despite unlikely odds or a defeat in Iowa, from Kefauver’s upset of Truman to the legions of antiwar students who became “Clean for Gene” in 1968. In more recent elections, John McCain’s upset of George W. Bush in 2000 was driven in large part by over one hundred town hall meetings; his slow, groundout victory in 2008’s primary likewise relied on that format (Jackson 2016a). Even candidates in strong positions to win in the state have



tended to win by carefully attending to party activists and volunteers (Sununu 2015). These and other primary results have given rise to the idea that winning in New Hampshire is impossible for candidates who do not dedicate a significant amount of time to speaking to voters in town halls, barbershops, bars, bookstores, college campuses, and other forums. Granite Staters do not make up their minds, the oft-repeated joke goes, until they’ve met a candidate three or four times. However, just as New Hampshirites worry every four years about the prospect of other states horning in on their first-in-the-nation status, so too do those in the state who worry about the primary also worry about it becoming dominated by faceless, big-money campaigns. New Hampshire, in this view, should not be a place where a candidate can win the primary by flooding the state with television advertising, glossy mailers, and other faceless and anonymous tactics. In part, this is a reflection of the state’s political culture beyond the primary. The New Hampshire legislature has 424 members, 400 in its lower chamber and 24 in the state senate. Many cities and towns hold town meetings every year to debate and decide local issues. Its 13 cities and 221 towns all have their own local councils and other offices. New Hampshire politics is therefore in many ways more permeable than it is in other states, simply because there are so many opportunities for citizens to become involved. The state also likes its reputation as one where grassroots campaigning can lead to unexpected outcomes because it maintains interest in and attention on the primary; you never know until primary night if something unexpected is going to happen, and plenty of unexpected things have happened in previous primaries. In some ways, Donald Trump approached the primary as a conventional candidate would have. He began hiring staff to work in the state in February of 2015, just over a year after his Politics & Eggs appearance (Costa 2015). To manage the campaign, Trump hired Corey Lewandowski, a forty-year-old who had been involved with Republican politics in New Hampshire for years, but stood well apart from the establishment of the party. One of Lewandowski’s earliest jobs in politics had been working for Senator Bob Smith in 2002, when the national and state party’s leaders had tacitly and not-so-tacitly lined up their support behind his challenger, Congressman John E. Sununu, the former governor’s son, in hopes that Sununu could defeat the Democratic candidate, the state’s popular governor Jeanne Shaheen. Most immediately prior to the Trump campaign, Lewandowski had worked for Americans


for Prosperity, one of the Koch brothers’ political action organizations (Simpson 2015). Lewandowski had developed a reputation in that position for brashness and visibility; he once debated a cardboard cutout of Governor John Lynch at a rally in front of the state house in Concord (Schreckinger and Martel 2015). Hiring an experienced New Hampshire Republican with knowledge of the state and its politics—particularly its Republican politics—was a fairly conventional start to Trump’s primary campaign. However, that was one of the few conventional things about Trump’s campaign. When it came time to hit the campaign trail, Trump did far less of the sort of retail politicking that usually characterizes the New Hampshire primary. My colleague at Saint Anselm College, Professor Jennifer Lucas, and I have been working with our former student, Brian O’Connor, on a research project to examine how candidates run in the primary. We pay particular attention to the sorts of events they take part in, and how much interaction with the public they allow. Table 2.2, based on some of the data Brian has collected for this project, makes clear how unusual Trump’s approach to running in the primary was. Many of the Republicans running in New Hampshire went all-in not just in the number of events they held in the state, but also in their focus on events that involve retail politics, such as town hall meetings, meetand-greet events, house parties, and roundtable forums. Senator Lindsey Graham, always a longshot for winning the primary, held a total of 180 events, more than any other candidate; over half of these were town halls or other retail events. Close behind was John Kasich, with 170 events, over half of which were town halls and three-quarters of which were retail. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina all did over 100 events, many of them retail, and even more obscure candidates like Jim Gilmore and George Pataki did a similar volume of appearances in the state. Trump, by contrast, made far fewer appearances in the state—just 42 that were included in our data. Of these events, just eight involved any retail, face-to-face campaigning. This put Trump well below the average for the 2016 Republican cycle, and in the company of short-lived candidates whose campaigns ended before the primary, like Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. These candidates had the excuse of abbreviated runs to explain the paucity of their events. Trump, however, won the primary while engaging in far less of the sort of retail politics often described as key to New Hampshire’s primary and political culture. Of the 2016 Republican field of candidates, only Bobby Jindal, whose



Table 2.2  Republican candidate events in New Hampshire during 2015 and 2016 Candidate

Total events

Town halls

House parties

Meet and Roundtables greet

Total retail % retail events

Graham Kasich Fiorina Christie Bush Pataki Gilmore Paul Rubio Cruz Trump Carson Walker Perry Santorum Jindal Huckabee Average

180 170 147 140 116 99 95 85 84 70 42 37 37 29 16 12 5 80

39 98 26 68 56 4 6 22 42 18 6 5 1 5 6 2 0 24

15 8 12 9 4 1 2 1 4 4 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 4

36 12 31 27 14 24 18 36 8 23 2 12 14 4 1 0 0 15

95 125 72 113 81 32 30 59 54 47 13 19 17 15 8 2 0 46

5 7 3 9 7 3 4 0 0 2 2 0 0 5 0 0 0 3

53 74 49 81 70 32 32 69 64 67 31 51 46 52 50 17 0 0

campaign drew little notice from anyone, spent a smaller percentage of his campaign events at interpersonal, retail events. How was Trump able to do this and win? Trump benefitted enormously on this front because he began his campaign as a celebrity who was already a household name. As a result, the impact of retail campaigning for him would have been limited. For a candidate who is the governor of Ohio or New Jersey, these sorts of events hold multiple benefits: They can attract politically engaged citizens early in the primary season, they can garner favorable coverage in local and national media outlets, and they give a candidate a chance to win over voters through their policy proposals, their record in other offices, or their personal appeal. House parties, in particular, allow their hosts to serve as a “political matchmaker” who can bring candidates and potential supporters and staffers together (Carlson 2015). For a candidate as wellknown as Trump all of these benefits were less necessary than they were for a Kasich or a Fiorina or a Bush. This was particularly the case because


Trump’s campaign was so light on serious, detailed policy proposals; his campaign was about the slogans and call-and-response chants at his rallies, not white papers and Powerpoint presentations. Another thing to bear in mind is that retail politics is often a tactic candidates turn to out of necessity. John McCain’s 2000 race is still remembered for his freewheeling conversations with reporters on his campaign bus and the town halls he held all over the state. Less remembered is the fact that McCain turned to these tactics in no small part because George W. Bush’s campaign had so cornered the market on high-dollar fundraisers and endorsements from party leaders and elected officials; bus tours and town halls were both within the McCain campaign’s limited budget and a way to distinguish McCain from his rival (Balz and Johnson 2009). For Kasich and Christie and Bush, doing many town halls and other retail events was an attempt to set themselves apart from the rest of the traditional Republicans in the race; for Graham and Fiorina, retail events were about trying to break out of the back of the pack and putting themselves into the ranks of the major candidates. And simply doing lots of retail events does not guarantee electoral success; when Jeb Bush implored listeners to “please clap” after his remarks about national defense at a town hall meeting, the awkward moment turned into a synecdoche of his sputtering campaign (Martin and Parker 2016). For Trump, retail politics held more peril than promise. Still, it was not Trump’s celebrity alone that led him to victory in the face of the absence of support within the GOP and his avoidance of retail campaigning in the New Hampshire primary. He also had help from his fellow candidates.

A Series of Strategic Blunders and Poor Choices Throughout the months leading up to the primary, large and small decisions by the other candidates seeking the Republican nomination had the cumulative effect of making it harder for those in the party opposed to Trump to stop him. Chief among them was an inability of the other candidates to figure out how to respond to Trump. Trump so dominated the early debates, and so flustered Jeb Bush, who was still clinging to his default front-runner status before the first debate, that the satirical website The Onion joked about Bush slowly moving his podium toward Trump’s during breaks in the debates (The Onion 2015). Scott Walker similarly had a



very difficult time responding to Trump (Goldmacher and Isenstadt 2015), and Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul all, at various points, came under fire from Trump during the debates, often in deeply personal and insulting terms. None of Trump’s rivals had much success countering Trump; when Jeb Bush insisted Trump apologize for remarks he made about Bush’s wife, Trump simply refused, making Bush look hapless and worse off than he was before he made his demand. Ultimately, Trump’s fellow Republicans simply decided to stop attacking him and start attacking each other, in the apparent belief that whichever candidate could establish themselves as the chief rival to Trump in the early contests would enjoy a surge of support from the party leaders who were declining to take sides in the months before voting began, and that the party’s rank-and-file primary voters would then come to their senses and start voting for the alternative to Trump. This magical thinking also allowed the candidates to spend less time talking about Trump, which allowed Trump to float more or less unscathed through the debates held during the final weeks before the primary. It was Marco Rubio, not Donald Trump, who came under the most fire as the primary drew near, for everything from his youth, to questions of his underpreparedness for the presidency and his overpreparedness in speaking, and even, in one memorable exchange with Jeb Bush, to his choice in boots (Jackson 2016b; Wilkinson 2016). Rubio became the target because, as Bush’s star faded, he began to look more and more like the most plausible alternative to Trump. He had been marked as a rising star even before he was elected to the Senate and his youth and optimism were, many Republicans believed, what the party needed to win national elections; he had at various times been compared to both John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama (Reitman 2016). He had also managed to ingratiate himself with both the Tea Party activists who had fueled the GOP’s big wins in 2010 and 2014 and the party’s established powers in Washington without alienating or aligning himself with either group. However, Rubio came to his position as the primary drew near almost by default; his candidacy had not provoked the sort of grassroots enthusiasm his supporters had hoped for when he became a candidate. And his campaign had tried not to come on too strong throughout 2015, in an effort to avoid the sort of quick rises and quicker falls that Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, and others had experienced in 2012. But the campaign had been too careful in doing so, and


had underinvested in its infrastructure and staff in the early states, with some New Hampshire party leaders baldly stating that “[w]e just haven’t seen him lately” and that Rubio “didn’t show up” in the same way Christie and Kasich and others were (Bender 2015). This sentiment was repeated in the other early states, where Rubio was a less frequent visitor than many of his rivals. This meant that the candidate who brought a great deal to the race, on paper, was not positioned well in terms of capitalizing on any surges in interest or support, or the unexpected viral moments that can bring a candidate to the attention of voters. Nor had he built a reservoir of goodwill with New Hampshire’s Republican primary voters by participating in the rituals of the primary to the extent that Kasich, Bush, and others had. Instead, he was simply hoping to be the last candidate standing when the dust from the primary cleared. After Iowa, this looked for a brief moment like it had been a wise course for the Rubio campaign. Trump was, many party leaders felt, unacceptable, but Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses, was personally disliked by many of those same leaders. Cruz’s victory in Iowa was also overshadowed by a controversy over whether his campaign had told caucus-goers that Ben Carson—a rival for the same social conservatives Cruz was appealing to—had dropped out of the race; an effort to blame CNN for reporting that Carson was ending his campaign (even though there was no such CNN report) only distracted from Cruz’s effort to capitalize on his win (Byers 2016). Rubio, meanwhile, had a strong third-place showing in Iowa with support from 23.1% of caucus-goers, just 1.2% behind Trump. Following the caucuses, Rick Santorum dropped out of the race and endorsed Rubio, describing him as “tremendously gifted” and “the new generation” of the GOP (Strauss 2016). Polling of New Hampshire Republican primary voters showed Rubio moving into second place behind Trump (Edelman 2016). If that polling held through the primary, Rubio would be well-positioned to become first the leading alternative to Trump and then the party’s nominee. Unfortunately for Rubio, his rivals for the nomination all recognized this, too. He came out of Iowa with the wind at his back, but he also had a target on it. Nowhere was this more on display than in the final debate before the primary, held on Saturday, February 6 at Saint Anselm College. Chris Christie, one of the traditional conservative candidates fighting to become the acceptable alternative to Trump, spent the debate attacking Rubio, much as he had been doing at other campaign



stops in the weeks leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire. Displaying all of the New Jersey bombast that had characterized his early years as governor, Christie laid into Rubio repeatedly as inexperienced and programmed to speak in “a memorized 25-second speech.” To Christie’s clear delight, Rubio responded in exactly the worst way possible—by repeating one of his prepared debate lines four times (Kennedy 2016). The reaction was devastating; in the debate press room, laughter broke out by the fourth time Rubio repeated his talking point. James Fallows, the presidential speechwriter turned journalist, said Rubio had turned in the “most self-destructive debate performance since Quayle ‘88 and J.B. Stockdale,” (Fallows 2016), while Eugene Robinson said Rubio’s “deer-in-the-headlights look” confirmed worries that the Florida senator lacked substance (Robinson 2016). David Frum, once a speechwriter for George W. Bush, went further, and argued that Rubio’s robotic showing in the debate was an “unnerving” display for Republican primary voters trying to evaluate him as a potential president (Frum 2016). This was disastrous for Rubio during the final weekend before the primary, when many voters are just beginning to settle on a candidate to vote for. But it also did Christie no favors; the voters who saw Rubio panic and retreat to his talking points also saw Christie delivering an aggressive, belittling verbal beat-down of the generally likable Rubio. The damage Christie did to Rubio inflicted its own cost on Christie; the dynamics of their exchange and its effects on each candidate were reminiscent of the Democratic contest in 2003, where Dick Gephardt’s late negative offensive against Howard Dean damaged both candidates, and cleared a path for John Kerry to win Iowa and New Hampshire (Maslin 2004). Meanwhile, Trump emerged from the debate unscathed as he headed into the final days before the primary.

Trump’s Primary Victory Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary handily, with over 35% of the vote. John Kasich was a distant second with just under 16%, and Ted Cruz, more by default than thanks to any particular strategy his campaign deployed, was third with just under 12%. Jeb Bush edged out Marco Rubio for fourth place, and Chris Christie came in sixth with just 7.4% of the vote. However, victory—even when handily won—is always relative to a certain extent. While Trump won more of the vote than any other


single candidate, the final tally reinforces the idea that the size of the Republican field was of considerable benefit to the Trump campaign. The 2016 Republican primary result calls to mind the Democratic primary in 1976. That year, Jimmy Carter—like Trump, an outsider, but unlike Trump, a little-known figure before his initial 1976 campaign victories—won the primary with 28.4% of the vote. This was a clear victory over runner-up Mo Udall’s 22.7%, but the combined vote total for Udall and fellow liberals Birch Bayh, Fred Harris, and Sargent Shriver was almost 57%. It oversimplifies things to say that had only one of those candidates run, he would have beaten Carter; if only one had run, Carter would have run a different campaign and so would that one other candidate. But it does suggest that the liberals’ battle over their segment of the electorate allowed the unknown Carter a clearer path than he otherwise would have had. Similarly, in 2016, Trump benefitted from the fact that his rivals were attacking each other more than they were attacking him. Combined, Kasich and Bush and Rubio and Christie earned just under 45% of the primary vote. Had only one of these four run, elite party actors would at the very least have had an easier time consolidating their support behind an alternative to Trump. But with all four in the race, and none of the four offering compelling differences from the other three, elite support divided and voters inclined to attend to the signals of party leaders did the same. Exit polling of primary voters, while imperfect, can help shed further light on Trump’s primary victory.1 Trump’s victory margin was convincing enough that he generally won across most demographic categories, but some noteworthy differences merit attention. Trump won more support among men (38%) than he did with women (33%), and ran worst with older voters; just 31% of voters 65 and older supported him in the primary. Trump’s support declined as voters’ levels of educational attainment increased: 47% of voters with a high school education or less supported him, while just 25% of primary voters with postgraduate education supported him. A similar dynamic appeared with regard to income. Trump ran strongest among those earning under $30,000 a

1 This analysis is based on exit polling available at primaries/epolls/nh/ and Rep.



year (39% of whom voted for him) and between $30,000 and $50,000 a year (40% of whom voted for him), while just 31% of those earning more than $200,000 year cast primary ballots for him. He ran better among those from a household in which at least one person owned a firearm (40%) than among those whose households contained no firearms (28%), and won a majority (51%) of voters identifying immigration as the most important issue facing the country. Even in the first primary of 2016, the broad outlines of Trump’s path to the White House were emerging. A comparison of the 2016 New Hampshire primary electorate to that of 2012’s primary makes this even clearer. Most strikingly, the primary electorate that turned out in 2016 described itself as much more conservative than the one that turned out in 2012. In 2012, nearly half (47%) of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire described themselves as moderates; in 2016, just 27% did. In 2012, just 21% had described themselves as “very conservative” and 32% had said they were “somewhat conservative.” In 2016, 26% described themselves as “very conservative” and 45% said they were “somewhat conservative.” 2016 saw somewhat more first-time primary voters (15%, compared to 2012’s 12%) and a somewhat younger primary electorate, with 15% between 18 and 29, versus 12% in 2012, and lower levels of formal educational attainment, with 16% having a high school education or less compared to 13% in 2012, while fewer voters in 2016 (19%) had a postgraduate education than in 2012 (22%). It is hard to say that Trump alone was responsible for these shifts in the Republican electorate. But the changes in ideological identification are striking, and suggest that at the very least Trump was providing rank-and-file primary voters with different cues to follow than Mitt Romney had four years earlier and helping to turn out a different primary electorate. Trump’s victory in New Hampshire did not, in and of itself, make him the nominee. But it pushed his loss in Iowa out of the news and put him back in the race. As for his rivals, only Christie among the major candidates ended his campaign after New Hampshire; the rest decided to roll the dice and see what happened in South Carolina. While party elites began to scramble to boost Rubio and then Cruz, these efforts were far too little, far too late; by the time Trump had won New Hampshire, the various anti-Trump efforts were as doomed as the late efforts to stop Barry Goldwater in 1964 (Matthews 1997) and George McGovern in 1972 (Thompson 1973). Once again, the Granite State’s primary gave a campaign that was on the ropes after Iowa a new start.


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New Hampshire in the 2016 General Election

Abstract  How did Hillary Clinton win New Hampshire while losing other swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin? Exit polls suggest two factors help explain Clinton’s success in New Hampshire. First, the state’s small population of nonwhite voters broke overwhelmingly for Clinton. Second, the state’s high levels of educational attainment relative to other states meant that Clinton’s support among voters with postsecondary degrees had more of an impact in New Hampshire than it did in other swing states. This allowed Clinton to carry the state despite making fewer in-person appearances than Trump did. Keywords  2016 presidential election · Hillary Clinton Electoral votes · New Hampshire · Donald Trump

· Education ·

In order to examine how the 2016 presidential election played out in New Hampshire, it is helpful to review the state’s recent political history. New Hampshire’s status as one of the few competitive states whose decisions help determine the outcome of presidential elections would be a surprise to a visitor from just a few decades ago, when the state was a rock-ribbed Republican state where Democratic victories were few and far between. During the 1970s and 1980s, it was not uncommon to hear Democratic politicians complain that such a Republican state should not play such a large role in their party’s nominating process. Throughout © The Author(s) 2020 C. J. Galdieri, Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics, Palgrave Studies in US Elections,



the entirety of the twentieth century, Democratic governors held office for just fifteen years; not quite twenty years into the twenty-first century, Republicans have served just five years in the governor’s office. The changes in the state’s political leanings are in many ways the result of in-migration from other states. As of 2016, just 45% of Granite Staters had been born in the state (Johnson et al. 2016). Many of these new voters moved into the southern part of the state from Massachusetts, beginning in the late 1980s. During a visit to New Hampshire in 2015, Mike Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor who won the Democratic New Hampshire primary in 1988, recalled his realization during his campaign that many of the voters he was meeting were a lot like the voters he was used to from his Massachusetts campaigns. New Hampshire’s political shift has also been part of a larger political realignment in New England, as Republicans’ shift toward social conservatism in pursuit of and in service to its new base of voters in the South and the West alienated some of the voters who had once reliably voted Republican (Reiter and Stonecash 2011). In 1992, New Hampshire broke with its Republican tradition and went for Bill Clinton; since then, the state has voted for the Democratic nominee in every presidential election but 2000, when votes cast for Green Party spoiler Ralph Nader helped George W. Bush narrowly edge out Al Gore. In 1996, Jeanne Shaheen became the state’s first elected Democratic governor since 1982, beginning a streak in which Democrats won all but one election for governor through 2014—all the more impressive given that New Hampshire’s governors are elected to twoyear terms. But New Hampshire had not suddenly flipped from stolidly Republican to reliably Democratic; instead, the state had entered a new era of partisan competitiveness in which neither party has been able to cement a durable advantage over the other. While Democrats had a long run of success in gubernatorial elections, control of the state legislature and the state’s seats in the House of Representatives has seesawed back and forth, usually in the same direction as swings in national political fortunes. And its Senate races, with the exception of Kelly Ayotte’s easy win in 2010, have been hard-fought ones. In 2014, running against carpetbagger Scott Brown in a bad year for Democrats, Jeanne Shaheen won a narrow victory with just 51.6% of the vote (Galdieri 2019). The 2016 election reflected the state’s close partisan split, with both the presidential and U.S. Senate races ultimately ending in narrow Democratic victories. How did the Clinton and Trump campaigns run in New



Hampshire? In particular, how did Hillary Clinton carry New Hampshire while losing other swing states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan by narrow margins?

The Republicans: Coming to Terms with Trump While winning New Hampshire’s primary set Trump on the path to the Republican nomination, the road was not an easy one. As they did in the month before the primary, his opponents continued to make strategic decisions that helped Trump: Jeb Bush stayed in the race, despite his poor New Hampshire showing, until after South Carolina; Marco Rubio decided to fight insults with insults, sacrificing the sunny optimism that was one of his most appealing assets and leading to the first primary debate to include insinuations about the size of a candidate’s physical characteristics; John Kasich and Ted Cruz, the last non-Trump candidates in the race, divided the remaining states in ways that worked against both candidates’ natural political backgrounds and advantages. One of the more intriguing last-ditch attempts at stopping Trump involved trying to deprive him of a majority of delegates on the first ballot, in hopes that another candidate could win on a second, third, or subsequent ballot (Newell 2016). Ted Cruz, in particular, pursued a “shadow delegate” strategy to put Cruz supporters in delegate slots, regardless of whom they would be pledged to vote for on the first ballot, in hopes of winning those delegates’ support on later ballots. This scheme was helped by the fact that Trump’s delegate operation was somewhere between nonexistent and anemic throughout much of the primary season (Sarlin 2016). The extent of discomfort with Trump among some New Hampshire Republicans is clear from the actions of Jennifer Horn, then the state’s party chair, regarding the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention. Given the opportunity to nominate eight delegates to sit on various convention committees— including committees which would issue rulings if the convention required multiple ballots to choose a nominee—Horn initially recommended that seven of the eight slots go to supporters of candidates other than Trump. Horn ultimately changed course after a backlash from Trump delegates and supporters (Jacobs 2016). Gordon Humphrey, who served two terms in the United States Senate and one in the New Hampshire state senate, in that order, was one of the more prominent anti-Trump Republicans. Not only did he


support a rules change that would have made Trump’s path to the nomination at the convention harder, he also endorsed Hillary Clinton shortly before the general election (Ganley and Brindley 2016; Pindell 2016a). But while there were some other prominent anti-Trump voices in the party, most of the state’s leading Republicans came to terms with Trump and his nomination at some point between the primary and the general election. By the time the RNC came around, Jennifer Horn announced that she had “no reservations” about Trump as the party’s nominee, despite her earlier criticisms of him (Ganley and Brindley 2016). John Sununu, the former governor who had been so flummoxed by Trump before the primary, ultimately not only came to support Trump, but even appeared at Trump rallies where he made vulgar comments about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s sex life (Johnson 2016). Judd Gregg, the former governor and senator, suggested during the summer that he would be more open to the idea of supporting Trump if he picked Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessean cut from the same establishmentarian cloth as Gregg, as his running mate (Schleifer 2016). Remarks from figures like Sununu and Gregg, even when they fell short of an endorsement, helped the Trump campaign by giving hesitant rank-and-file Republican voters permission, in effect, to vote for Trump. In a CNBC interview, for instance, Sununu praised Trump’s “growth” since securing the Republican nomination and noted that Trump’s stated policy positions in the fall campaign aligned with those of Republican voters (Belvedere 2016). And some prominent members of the state party had been fine with Trump all along. Bob Smith, the former U.S. Senator, was an enthusiastic surrogate for Trump at events throughout the state (Pindell 2016a), and state representative Al Baldasaro was an early and public Trump supporter, who had echoed Trump’s rhetoric about President Obama’s birthplace in the past and in 2016 said Hillary Clinton should be shot over the 2012 attack on the American mission in Benghazi (Schlesinger 2011; Schoenberg 2016). The fact that Clinton was the Democratic nominee helped reluctant Republican voters make the decision to vote for Trump. John Sununu, for instance, said that she made it “damn easy for me to support Donald Trump” (Johnson 2016). In an era of political polarization and negative partisanship, it is important to remember that any other nominee would have been as vilified by the Trump campaign as Clinton was (Abramowitz and Webster 2016; Azari 2016). But Clinton’s decades on the national stage made it easy for Republicans to convince themselves that they had



to vote against her for the good of the nation, no matter what misgivings they might have had about Donald Trump. Clinton’s 2016 had also had a rocky start that affected how she ran for president in the fall.

Clinton Versus Trump: The Political Landscape in New Hampshire As the preprimary period began, Hillary Clinton looked like she had a clear path to the nomination. Public opinion polls throughout 2013 and 2014 showed that she was personally popular and admired by many Americans, and found that she, unlike many other potential Democratic candidates for 2016, was leading the likely Republican candidates in head-to-head matchups. This was the case despite President Obama’s unpopularity in 2014, which had hurt vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election that year. Obama had made only a few campaign appearances that fall in places like Maryland and Illinois, where Democrats usually have an easy time being elected governor. Both states elected Republicans in 2014. Clinton, to many Democrats, offered the opportunity for a nominee in 2016 who would appeal to both Obama supporters and those who had middling views of the president’s performance. A group called “Ready for Hillary” formed to encourage her to run, and many officeholders expressed their explicit or unofficial support for a 2016 Clinton campaign. But 2016 also promised to be a difficult year for a Democrat, Clinton or otherwise, to win a presidential election. Since World War II, only once has a party held the White House for a third straight term, when George H. W. Bush defeated Mike Dukakis in 1988. Not helping matters was the slow growth and sluggish recovery of the mid-2010s. On the other hand, many political observers had taken the turnout patterns and results of the elections of the Obama era, when Democrats did well in presidential years and poorly in midterms, as being set in stone for all future elections, and began talking about a Democratic advantage, or even lock, in the electoral college, based in large part on Democratic candidates’ success in Pennsylvania and other industrial states in the Midwest since 1992. These, of course, would prove to be exactly the states that gave Trump his improbable victory in 2016. But in the run-up to 2016, many Democrats considered them a “blue wall” that would help their candidates hold the White House beyond the Obama administration no matter what happened in races further down the ballot.


New Hampshire was another of the states Democrats needed to carry to win the White House, as Al Gore had learned so painfully in 2000. For Clinton, the state’s four electoral votes were vital. But her experience in the primary was an unplanned-for complication. While she had wrapped up support for her campaign among Democratic elites well before voting began, that support also scared off many other potential candidates. Of those who did run, only Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, had a traditional political career. The rest were iconoclastic oddballs, including Jim Webb, who had served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the navy and a term as a Democratic senator from Virginia; Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator and independent governor from Rhode Island and the only 2016 candidate with a position on the metric system; and Bernie Sanders, a self- wasdescribed democratic socialist who had represented Vermont in the House of Representatives and then the Senate as an independent. Sanders showed surprising strength in the primaries, nearly tying Clinton in Iowa and defeating her by over twenty points in New Hampshire’s primary. While Clinton did win the nomination, Sanders stayed in the race until the very last primary in June, and argued that Clinton’s deep support among party leaders—particularly the party leaders and elected officials often referred to as “superdelegates” who almost unanimously preferred Clinton—was proof that the nomination contest had been “rigged” against him (Bernstein 2016). Thus, Clinton began the general election campaign in New Hampshire fighting on two fronts. She needed to win over the voters who had chosen Sanders over her in the Democratic primary, and at the same time she needed to reach those general election voters who were open to supporting her. That did not mean Donald Trump was without problems of his own. Throughout the summer and fall, he trailed Clinton in poll after poll after poll, both nationally and in New Hampshire. Trump’s campaign also lacked institutional support from many Republicans, and the sort of campaign infrastructure that presidential campaigns normally have. And of course, Trump himself was unlike most presidential nominees. Trump’s series of offensive and outrageous statements during the summer and fall put New Hampshire’s Senator Ayotte in a difficult position: As a Republican seeking re-election in a swing state, she needed to retain the support of the state’s Republican voters, many of whom had supported Trump in the primary and planned to vote for him in November’s general election. But she also needed to avoid alienating



independents and crossover Democrats, whose support had helped make her 2010 election a landslide. This proved untenable. Ayotte skipped the Republican National Convention (as did numerous other Republican officeholders, including John Kasich) and said she was supporting Trump, but not endorsing him. Once the Access Hollywood tape on which Trump bragged about grabbing unwilling women’s genitals went public in October, Ayotte finally declared that she could not support Trump, and would instead write in his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana (Lucas et al. 2018). A lack of funding, public support, and traditional campaign infrastructure did not stop Trump from running hard during the general election campaign, just as Clinton’s surprising difficulty in overcoming Bernie Sanders’ challenge did not lead her to abandon efforts to win over his supporters. As in so many past election years, New Hampshire was a battleground state in 2016, and the candidates’ travel to the state demonstrates the different approaches each campaign took to the race.

Candidates in the Granite State In presidential elections, the allocation of electoral votes on a state-bystate basis means that candidate travel focuses almost exclusively on a small handful of battleground states. There is little reason for either party’s nominee to spend time in deeply Democratic Hawaii or ruby red Wyoming when there are states where the outcome of the election is uncertain. Candidate time is a zero-sum commodity: Any time spent on a safe state is time not spent in Florida or Pennsylvania or New Hampshire or an emerging swing state. It is also rare that one presidential campaign thinks a state is a swing state and the other does not: Polling and information about shifting state demographics and voting patterns mean that in most elections, everyone generally agrees on which states are in play and which are not. In 2016, New Hampshire was a swing state, just as it had been in every presidential election since 1992. While both campaigns recognized that New Hampshire was a critical state, they did not devote the same amount of candidate time to it. Hillary Clinton made just four trips to the state. Two of her events involved her appearing alongside Bernie Sanders, in an effort to win over his supporters from the primary. A third was a rally at Saint Anselm College, where she appeared with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and several other Democrats appearing on the ballot that year. And one of Clinton’s


final campaign events was a get-out-the-vote rally in Manchester on the Sunday before the election. Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, also spent some time in New Hampshire. These included an August rally with Jeanne Shaheen and a number of other prominent state Democrats and a town hall in September. Kaine also spent an unplanned day in the state on September 1, when weather forced the campaign to scrap his planned visit to Florida. That day, he made five appearances throughout the state—more than Clinton made in New Hampshire during the entirety of the general election campaign. The Trump–Pence campaign dedicated considerably more of its candidates’ time to New Hampshire. Between June and Election Day, Trump himself held a total of eleven events in the state, including an election eve rally in Manchester with Mike Pence. Most of these events were in the form of the rallies that were so emblematic of Trump’s campaign, but Trump also came to New Hampshire in June to deliver a policy address on immigration and held one invitation-only town hall. Pence made five visits to the state, which included several rallies and a town hall meeting. In part, the Trump–Pence campaign’s emphasis on candidate travel and rallies foreshadowed Trump’s view of the presidency; since his inauguration, it has become clear that Trump sees the job in terms of public appearances and displays of authority. For Trump, the point of a meeting with a foreign leader, for example, is the joint press conference and photo opportunity, not the behind-the-scenes diplomatic work that normally precedes the public displays of leaders meeting one another. In 2016, this meant that candidate Trump was far more likely to hold a rally than a town hall or a listening session. Each candidate’s amount of travel to and level of attention dedicated to the Granite State also reflected their competing theories of the general election. Clinton, who led nearly every poll taken during the general election campaign, was by mid-fall aiming not just to win but to win by the widest margin possible. She therefore spent time not just on battleground states that had voted Democratic in most recent elections, but on states that had oscillated between the parties like Iowa and North Carolina. Her campaign also made a major effort in Arizona, which had voted Democratic only once, in 1996, since World War II, and put resources into Utah, where the independent anti-Trump candidacy of Evan McMullin held the potential to put the state into contention. A further goal of Clinton’s expansive travel map was to boost congressional candidates, in hopes of retaking, or at least reducing Republicans’



margins in, the Senate and the House of Representatives; Arizona, Iowa, and North Carolina all had Senate elections taking place in 2016. One consequence of this approach to the campaign was that it left less time to campaign in states that were thought to be reliably blue. This approach was also, in part, a reaction to Trump’s frequent charges throughout the campaign that the general election was somehow going to be “rigged” in Clinton’s favor, and that Trump would refuse to concede if he thought the outcome was suspect. The bigger a Clinton victory was, the campaign thought, the more any such behavior from a defeated Trump would look like sour and graceless grapes (Debenedetti 2016). While Clinton was trying to get to the largest possible electoral vote majority, Trump was simply trying to get to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. At the start of the general election campaign, this looked like a difficult task. Some Republicans speculated that Trump’s skeletal campaign effort lacked the resources and staffers to compete in more than a handful of battleground states, and that his unpopularity with many blocs of voters limited his path to an electoral college victory in ways that John McCain’s and Mitt Romney’s campaigns had not been in their races against Barack Obama (Burns and Haberman 2016). However, candidate Trump maintained an aggressive campaign schedule throughout the fall, making “almost two more stops per day, on average, than Clinton did” (McCarthy 2016). These appearances did not necessarily guarantee Trump’s victory, or even lead to his success in flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other key swing states that had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. But they did help put him in a position to capitalize on events if Clinton’s lead began to crumble. And crumble it did; throughout October, voters’ evaluations of Clinton began to curdle, in part due to Trump’s attacks on Clinton in their three debates and in part as a result of campaign coverage driven by WikiLeaks’ release of Clinton campaign leaders’ emails. Jamieson (2018) argues persuasively that this press coverage drove the decline in Clinton’s standing among voters, and had the side effect of taking attention away from Trump in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape. FBI director James Comey’s October 28 letter about Clinton’s use of a personal email server played into this shift in public opinion regarding Clinton (Silver 2017). Trump’s busy travel schedule helped him capitalize on Clinton’s decline in the polls in a way that a less frenetic campaign might not have been.


While many battleground states swung to Trump, New Hampshire stayed in the Democratic column by a slender margin of 2736 votes. Why did New Hampshire stay blue when other swing states swung to Trump?

New Hampshire’s Democratic Advantage In 2016, New Hampshire had the third highest turnout in the nation, with 72.5% of those eligible to vote casting ballots; this was up from 2012, when 70.2% of those eligible cast ballots (DiStaso 2017). Neither candidate set the state’s electorate on fire; more votes were cast in the Senate race than in the presidential race, which suggests that some voters could not bring themselves to vote for Clinton or Trump or any of the independent candidates or write in an alternative (Lucas et al. 2018). Still, enough voters chose Clinton to deliver the state’s four electoral votes to her. Two factors help explain why Clinton’s narrowly won in New Hampshire while she lost other key swing states. The first is the demography of the state. New Hampshire is notoriously one of the least diverse states in America, with a population that is 94% white (Seelye 2018). This helped make it an attractive state to Trump’s campaign, just as it had for those of previous Republican nominees, since nonwhite voters tend to break for Democrats by wide margins (Arkin 2016). But mostly white is not the same thing as entirely white, and exit polling shows that the state’s small nonwhite population was critical to Clinton’s success. White voters comprised 92% of the state’s electorate in 2016, and Trump narrowly led Clinton among these voters by a margin of 48% to 46%. The nonwhite voters who made up the remaining 8% of the New Hampshire electorate, however, broke overwhelmingly for Clinton, giving her 58% of their votes, while Trump received just 33%. A similar pattern was apparent in the state’s Senate race between Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan; there as in the presidential race, it was nonwhite voters who decisively broke for the Democratic candidate and pushed her to a narrow victory over her opponent (Lucas et al. 2018). And had the 2016 election taken place entirely in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton would be president. But the other 49 states and the District of Columbia weighed in, too. The biggest of election night’s surprises took place in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, competitive states which Democrats had nonetheless managed to win in every



presidential election between 1992 and 2012. In 2016, however, Donald Trump carried all three of these states by very narrow margins, and managed to achieve a comfortable majority in the electoral college even while he lost the popular vote by roughly three million votes. Why was Trump able to flip these three swing states, but not New Hampshire? While the political environment in the final weeks of the election changed in ways that favored Trump, the composition of the electorates in those states fundamentally differed from that of New Hampshire’s in key ways. Perhaps the most important difference had to do with the different levels of educational attainment in New Hampshire, the second key factor that explains why Clinton managed to carry the state. New Hampshire has one of the most well-educated populations in the United States. In 2016, 36.6% of residents over the age of 25 had a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of educational attainment, and 14.1% had completed an advanced degree, well over the national average of 31.3 and 11.9% in each category (Bureau of Census 2019). New Hampshire’s 2016 electorate reflected this high level of education. Exit polling shows that 32% of Granite State voters’ highest level of educational attainment was a college degree, while an additional 23% had completed a postgraduate degree, such as a master’s degree or a law degree. By contrast, just 44% of the state’s voters had not completed college. This proved fatal to Trump’s chances in the state. Among the 13% of voters with a high school degree or less, Trump won by a wide margin of 58% to Clinton’s 37%. Trump similarly carried the 31% of New Hampshire voters who had some college education with 53% to Clinton’s 41%. But after that Trump’s advantage evaporated: He barely edged Clinton, 48% to 47%, among voters whose highest level of educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree, and Clinton won decisively among those with postgraduate degrees, with 65% of these votes to Trump’s 29%. Without voters with high levels of educational attainment, Trump would have carried New Hampshire’s four electoral votes. But these voters makeup such a large part of New Hampshire’s population, and turn out to vote at such a high rate, that they were able to salvage Clinton’s campaign in New Hampshire. Tables 3.1 and 3.2 compare the levels of education in the 2016 electorate in New Hampshire to those in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to demonstrate why New Hampshire stayed in the Democratic column and the others—all swing states that had reliably voted Democratic since the 1992 election—did not. Indeed, George W. Bush’s win in

64  C. J. GALDIERI Table 3.1  2016 electorate by level of educational attainment in New Hampshire and other key states New Hampshire Pennsylvania (%) (%) High school or less Some college College graduate Postgraduate degree

13 31 32 23

22 30 29 19

Wisconsin (%)

Michigan (%)

United States (%)

20 35 30 15

20 38 28 15

18 32 32 18

Source 2016 exit polls, available at

New Hampshire in 2000 means that these states had been more reliably Democratic since 1992, up until the 2016 election. Of the four states, New Hampshire had the highest proportions of voters with college degrees as well as the highest proportion of voters with postgraduate degrees, the lowest proportion of voters with a high school education or less, and almost tied Pennsylvania for the lowest proportion of voters with some college education. Among the categories of educational attainment, Clinton did not actually perform better in New Hampshire (relative to the other three states) in any single category, even voters with postgraduate degrees. But the segments of the electorate with college degrees or postgraduate degrees were so much larger in New Hampshire than in the other three states that they were enough to give her a narrow edge over Trump in New Hampshire. The educational divide in New Hampshire in 2016 suggests that the state’s politics are likely to remain closely fought in years to come. As Dante Scala noted in his analysis of 2016, Democrats are probably close to their upper bound with well-educated voters and will face challenges in adding additional voters to their coalition, and Trump’s support in rural areas of the state meant that New Hampshire looked more like a swing state in 2016 than it had since 2004 (Scala 2017). The state’s continuing swinginess was on full display in 2016 in other major election contests.

The Downballot Races New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race was one of the marquee contests of 2016. Republicans had elected a large class of freshman senators in 2010, and Democrats had high hopes of defeating many of them when


37 41 47 65

58 53 48 29

43 46 46 59

56 49 50 37

41 39 49 69

Source 2016 exit polls, available at

High school or less Some college College graduate Postgraduate degree



United States

54 57 45 26

46 45 45 61

49 49 50 33

46 43 49 58

51 51 44 37

Clinton (%) Trump (%) Clinton (%) Trump (%) Clinton (%) Trump (%) Clinton (%) Trump (%) Clinton (%) Trump (%)

New Hampshire

Table 3.2  2016 vote by level of educational attainment in New Hampshire and other key states




they sought re-election to second terms in swing states during a presidential election year. One of the top Democratic targets was the firstterm Republican from New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte. While Ayotte had won in a landslide against then-Congressman Paul Hodes in 2010, there were reasons to think she was vulnerable in 2016: The presidential election would lead a much more Democratic-leaning electorate to turn out, and Democrats hoped clumsy statements she made in opposition to gun regulations might cost her support from independent and Democratic voters. On the other hand, Ayotte had assiduously worked to cultivate a bipartisan reputation during her tenure in the Senate, and had the full support of the party’s establishment behind her. National Democrats began working to recruit Governor Maggie Hassan to run against Ayotte as soon as Hassan won a second term in 2014, and were delighted when she decided to run, in part because there were no other obvious candidates who were as well-known as Hassan, had won recent statewide elections in the state, and were interested in the senate race. Donald Trump complicated Ayotte’s path to re-election in multiple ways. Ayotte, always more comfortable with the John McCains and Mitt Romneys of the GOP, declined to endorse anyone in the New Hampshire primary in 2016; once it was clear Trump would be the nominee, she skipped the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in favor of campaigning in New Hampshire. Trump’s ongoing series of offensive statements as a candidate, culminating in the Access Hollywood tape, continued to make Ayotte’s distance from Trump a recurring theme in the race. Even after she announced that she would write in Mike Pence, she continued to face questions about her opinions about her party’s candidate for president. Hassan, meanwhile, was able to remain on-message. Ultimately Ayotte became one of just two incumbent Republicans to lose to a Democratic challenger in 2016, with Hassan winning by an even narrower margin than Clinton did. It is not hard to imagine that with a different Republican nominee, one whom Ayotte would have been able to support without hesitation or fear of their next offensive remark, Ayotte could have retained her seat. Races for New Hampshire’s two seats in the House of Representatives tend to swing in the same direction as national trends in House races, and 2016 was no different than the norm. In the first congressional district, perhaps the “swingiest” district in the country, with equal numbers of voters registered as Democrats, Republicans, and independents, incumbent Republican Frank Guinta faced former Representative Carol Shea-Porter



for a record-setting fourth straight election (Pindell 2016b). Guinta was perceived as vulnerable enough that he faced a primary challenge, thanks to his 2015 settlement with the Federal Election Commission over a contribution of $355,000 his parents made to his 2010 campaign for the House, which was well over federal contribution limits and which Guinta claimed was his own money. In the wake of this settlement, the influential Union-Leader pithily editorialized that Guinta was “a damned liar” (Fitzpatrick 2015) and Senator Kelly Ayotte and other Republican leaders called on Guinta to resign (O’Keefe 2015). Guinta narrowly won his primary1 in part by embracing Trump, whom he endorsed in May of 2016 as a “different and refreshing” choice (Reid 2016). But he struggled with fund-raising and with support from fellow Republicans—Ayotte pointedly repeated her call for him to resign on the day of his primary (Pathé 2016)—and by the final weeks of the campaign, the National Republican Campaign Committee pulled its planned spending on Guinta’s behalf, effectively conceding the seat to Shea-Porter (Wallstin 2016). Shea-Porter won by just under 5000 votes on election day, even as Donald Trump carried the district by a similarly narrow margin. In the second district, Democratic Representative Ann McLane Kuster sought election to a third term. She had defeated then-Representative Charlie Bass in 2012, and easily fended off a challenge from Marilinda Garcia, a 31-year-old former state representative, in 2014. In 2016, it looked like she was likely to have another easy re-election campaign against her Republican opponent Jim Lawrence, an Air Force veteran and a former state representative. But while Kuster did defeat Lawrence, he ran better than anyone had expected, and Kuster sent her supporters home from her election night party to wait for final results the next morning (Carosa and Leclerc 2016). While Hassan, Shea-Porter, and Kuster all won more narrowly than they likely would have preferred, they nonetheless won their elections, and joined the state’s other senator, Jeanne Shaheen to comprise the second all-female congressional delegation in both New Hampshire and American history, and the first to be both all-female and all-Democratic. New Hampshire Republicans’ 2016 triumph—aside from Trump’s election, of course—was the election of Chris Sununu as governor of

1 While New Hampshire’s presidential primary takes place early in the year, primaries for other offices do not happen until September.


New Hampshire. And Democratic gains in the state legislature were small enough that both houses remained in Republican control. This gave New Hampshire’s Republicans unified control of state government for the first time since Democrat John Lynch was elected in 2004—a lifetime for Republicans in a state that their party had once dominated. Unlike Kelly Ayotte, the other Republican seeking statewide office in 2016, Sununu endorsed Trump and maintained that endorsement even in the face of Trump’s remarks on the Access Hollywood tape. While he called Trump’s comments “repugnant, unacceptable and offensive,” his campaign cast them as part of “the broader tone and the direction of national politics” driven by both the Trump and Clinton campaigns (Solomon 2016). This positioning allowed him to separate himself from Trump’s remarks without denouncing Trump himself, and reminded Republican and Republican-leaning voters that the alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton. Sununu also benefitted from voters’ familiarity with his family; his father had once been the state’s governor and his brother had served a term in the United States Senate. His Democratic opponent, Colin Van Ostern, was much less well-known, and the governor’s race flew beneath the radar of many Granite Staters. So much time and attention was lavished on the races for president and U.S. Senate that there was simply little oxygen left for Sununu and Van Ostern. This helped the better-known candidate to the one narrow victory in the state that went to the Republican candidate. The 2016 election in New Hampshire, then, reflected in many ways the election that took place in the rest of the country, in that voters disliked both candidates for president but chose Clinton over Trump. But Democrats in the races for federal office enjoyed a level of success in New Hampshire that eluded the party in other states; besides Maggie Hassan’s defeat of Kelly Ayotte, Democrats only flipped one other Senate seat, the one held by Republican Mark Kirk in deep-blue Illinois. Republican senators in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and other swing states held onto their seats despite predictions from pundits that Trump would drag them down to defeat. But at the state level Republicans came away from 2016 with much to celebrate: With full control of the state’s lawmaking and executive apparatus for the first time in a dozen years, they could finally move forward on policy priorities that had long been stymied. As they would learn in 2018, however, they were doing so on a political landscape defined not just by Donald Trump’s election, but by the backlash it provoked.



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72  C. J. GALDIERI Solomon, Dave. 2016. “As Others Bail on Trump, New Hampshire Candidate for Governor Stands by Him.” Governing, October 11. Accessed April 16, 2019. Wallstin, Brian. 2016. “GOP Group Pulls Support for Guinta, Spelling More Trouble for 1st District Incumbent.” New Hampshire Public Radio, October 27. Accessed April 15, 2019.


New Hampshire Politics in 2017 and 2018

Abstract  In 2017 and 2018, New Hampshire Republicans had unified control of the elected branches of state government for the first time in over a decade. At the same time, a wave of activism unleashed by Donald Trump’s election helped fuel Democratic victories in special and local elections, and ultimately led Democrats to win control of New Hampshire’s state legislature and executive council even in the face of strong gerrymanders. Governor Chris Sununu’s re-election was the only bright spot for Granite State Republicans in 2018. Keywords  Chris Sununu · Midterm elections · New Hampshire politics New Hampshire state legislature · Women’s March


On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump stood on the steps of the United States Capitol Building to take the oath of office. With Republicans controlling the Congress and the White House for the first time since 2006, Trump and Republicans in Congress planned to move quickly on a host of policy priorities that had been stymied during the Obama years, from immigration to tax cuts to repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting regulations. On January 21, exactly three years to the day Trump’s appearance at Politics & Eggs kicked off his 2016 campaign, millions of protestors took to the streets all across America to express their opposition to © The Author(s) 2020 C. J. Galdieri, Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics, Palgrave Studies in US Elections,



Trump and his agenda, in what were probably largest single-day protests in American history. Estimates placed the total number of marchers at somewhere between 3.2 million and 5.2 million participants, many of whom marched in hand-made pink hats designed to look like cat ears, in a visual pun on Trump’s vulgar Access Hollywood remarks (Chenoweth and Pressman 2017). The size of the protests—the Washington, D.C. protest was larger than the crowd for Trump’s inauguration—so rattled Trump that he sent his first press secretary into the White House press room to insist that Trump had had “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe” (Hunt 2017), and Trump himself spent much of his first public remarks in office on a transparent lie that his crowds had exceeded those for Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 (Rucker et al. 2017). The events of these two days defined the contours of American politics in the Trump era: An urgency on the right to take advantage of their full control of the elected branches of government on the one hand, and a fierce grassroots resistance fueled by both opposition to Republican policies and a sharp, ferocious, and personal disdain for Trump himself. This dynamic was in many ways replicated on a smaller scale in New Hampshire. With Chris Sununu as governor and Republican control of the state legislature and the executive council, New Hampshire Republicans looked forward to the chance to advance their longdeferred agenda on key issues. But the reach of the protests that overwhelmed Trump’s second day in office extended to New Hampshire, where rallies took place in cities and towns all over the state, from thousands who gathered in Concord and Portsmouth to the hundreds Keene and Jackson to the seven who turned out in Orford (Pressman and Chenoweth 2017). These rallies were headlined by familiar faces, in many cases: The Concord protests featured remarks by the state’s senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, as well as one of its congresswomen, Carol Shea-Porter (Ann McLane Kuster, the state’s other House member, marched in Washington). But the rallies also emphasized the potential power of grassroots organizing, and the need for those attending to do stay engaged beyond the day’s protests. Novelist Jodi Picoult, the first speaker at the Concord protests, reminded the crowd that “change does not come from the top down, but from the bottom up” (Associated Press 2017), while Senator Hassan urged attendees to “keep your eye on this capitol, too” (McDermott 2017b). These statements were in keeping with the protest organizers’ determination to keep the



marches broad and inclusive, so as to encourage participation and create a base on which to build subsequent political action (Waddell 2017). And for the next two years, the clash between unified Republican government on the one hand, and liberal activism supercharged by opposition to Trump defined New Hampshire politics, took place, culminating in the Democrats’ smashing successes in the 2018 midterms. In this regard as well, New Hampshire politics was a microcosm of national politics.

New Hampshire Politics in the Shadow of Donald Trump Given how narrowly Donald Trump lost New Hampshire, and the fact that Trump won the electoral vote narrowly while losing the popular vote by a wide margin, one might have expected Trump to handle the Granite State with an eye toward trying to flip its electoral votes in the 2020 election. And any other Republican in his position would likely have done so. Trump, however, did not do this. Instead, he spent months after the 2016 election groundlessly insisting that he had in fact won New Hampshire, but for thousands of fraudulent voters bussed into the state from Massachusetts had tipped the state to Clinton. At one point he claimed that this had also cost Kelly Ayotte—whose disdain for Trump did not keep her from managing his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court—her seat as well (Stokols 2017). This conspiracy-mongering was of a piece with Trump’s frequent statements that his popular vote loss was entirely the result of fraudulent votes for Clinton (Watkins 2018). This was, of course, not true; multiple reviews and analyses have found that there is at most minimal illegal voting, and that what does take place is more likely to be due to voter error or ignorance—such as the owner of property in two states trying to vote in each—than genuine, organized attempts at fraud. In New Hampshire, many defended the state from Trump’s charges, with Trump critic and former state GOP chair Fergus Cullen offering $1000 to anyone with evidence of illegal voters being bussed into the state (Buell 2017). But Trump was no longer a game show host bloviating about politics on Twitter; he was now in a position to do something about his belief in nonexistent voting fraud. What he did would nearly end the long career of a fixture of New Hampshire politics.


Trump formed a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” with the ostensible purpose of investigating the security of American elections, but in practice its goal was to further Republicans’ longstanding beliefs that widespread, fraudulent voting necessitated a host of measures intended to make elections more secure by making it harder to vote. While Vice President Mike Pence was officially the chair of the commission, its vice chair and the head of its day-to-day operations was Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, who had long been a champion of stricter voting laws. In 2017 Kobach wrote an article for an online conservative website that endorsed Trump’s voter fraud fantasia, specifically claiming New Hampshire’s 2016 result was entirely the result of fraud. Another member of the commission was Bill Gardner, who had served as New Hampshire’s secretary of state since 1976. Gardner was the most nominal of Democrats, and had built his reputation in the state as a largely apolitical election administrator and as the defender of New Hampshire’s place as the first presidential primary. Over his decades in office, Gardner had become something of an institution of Granite State politics in his own right. When he held the line on the date of the primary in 2011 in the face of Nevada’s threat to move up its primary, New Hampshire politics observers filled Twitter with “Bill Gardner facts” reminiscent of similar online lists about the supposed superhuman feats and attributes of actor Chuck Norris. Gardner had been elected every two years by Democratic and Republican majorities alike in the legislature, and had fended off occasional challengers from both the left and the right. Gardner was not an ordinary state secretary of state, who was using the position as an opportunity to burnish a resume with an eye toward higher offices. Thanks to his long tenure in office, he was an embodiment of New Hampshire politics and the New Hampshire primary. In accepting the appointment to the Kobach-headed commission, however, Gardner found his standing in New Hampshire under threat as it had never been before. The state’s entire congressional delegation called for him to resign from the commission, though Gardner declined to do so (McDermott 2017a), and the commission’s meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics turned into something of a fiasco. While about 150 protestors gathered outside holding signs with slogans like “vote free or die” and “Kobach where you came from,” (CleanupCarl 2017), the commission’s meeting featured grandiose claims about the extent of illegal voting with no actual evidence demonstrating



the existence of illegal voting. During the meeting’s afternoon session, Gardner confronted Kobach about his claims of fraudulent voting in New Hampshire. Kobach, Gardner said, had badly misunderstood New Hampshire law and as a result of his ignorance he was casting aspersions on a “real and valid” election process and outcome (Gerstein and Dezenski 2017). Activists inside the auditorium where the commission was meeting broke into applause, but the damage to Gardner’s apolitical reputation was done. Dudley Dudley, a longtime figure in New Hampshire Democratic politics, was one of the protestors across the street from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics; she told a reporter that Gardner “should be ashamed” of taking part in the commission (Graham 2017). The fallout from Gardner’s role on Kobach’s commission would lay the groundwork for New Hampshire’s very last contest of the 2018 elections.

The Fight for the State Legislature With a Republican governor and Republican majorities in the state legislature, Granite State Republicans set about moving forward a number of policy items that had been blocked by Democratic governors. These included a liberalization of state regulations on carrying firearms, tax cuts for corporations, and laws that made it more difficult for college students from out of state to register and vote in New Hampshire elections. Another priority, passing right-to-work legislation, failed in the legislature (McElveen 2017), as did a school choice bill (Moon 2018). On other issues, Republicans in the legislature and Governor Chris Sununu tried to split the difference. The legislature reauthorized the state’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, but with new work requirements for participants in the program (Landrigan 2018a). However, while Republicans worked to advance their key policy priorities in 2017 and 2018, Democrats were enjoying a very good run-up to the midterm elections. Thanks to the large size of the state legislature— its 424 members make it the third largest legislative body in the Western hemisphere—and its part-time status and minimal salary (members earn $100 per year for their service), special elections are more frequent than they might be in other states. Democrats across the country spent the early months of the Trump administration eagerly watching special elections at all levels of government for glimmers of hope in the wake of Trump’s election, but were disappointed as their candidates in special


elections for seats in the House of Representatives vacated by Trump appointments came up short in Georgia, South Carolina, Montana, and Kansas. The first special election in which Democrats flipped a seat previously held by a Republican—albeit one in a state legislature, not Congress—took place in New Hampshire in May of 2017, when Edie Desmarais became the first Democrat to win a legislative seat from Wolfboro in over a century (Stein 2017). By the time of the last New Hampshire special legislative election of the 2017–2018 election cycle, Democrats had won nine of eleven special elections. Democrats also won the Manchester mayor’s race in 2017, when Joyce Craig defeated incumbent Ted Gatsas. For Republicans who had hoped Trump’s near-win in the state had presaged a new era of Republican dominance in the state, these and other election results were disheartening. For Democrats, these wins were early indications that the enthusiasm and organization unleashed in the aftermath of Trump’s election could bear electoral fruit. Historically, midterm elections tend to go badly for the party that controls the White House. In part this is because of the way public opinion in America works; when Democrats are in power and move policy in liberal directions, opinion starts to move to the right. When Republicans are in power and move policy in conservative directions, opinion starts to move to the left. Some scholars compare this tendency in public opinion to a thermostat that regulates heating and cooling to keep a home from getting too warm or too cold (Wleizen 1995; Soroka and Wleizen 2010). But midterm election waves are also, above and beyond the fundamentals of a given campaign year, often something akin to self-fulfilling prophecies. Elected officials who opt not to run for another term because they suspect they would lose their re-election bids, for instance, might be one of the deciding factors that lead other elected officials in their party to make the same choice. Similarly, a series of special election victories can encourage potential candidates to run, activists to volunteer, and donors to write checks to the party that looks likely to prevail in the upcoming general election. With an apparent wave in the offing, and the state legislature’s tendency to swing in the direction of national tides (recall that control of the lower chamber had changed hands in 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2014), New Hampshire’s Democrats did what they could to maximize their chances in 2018. One step the party took was to recruit candidates for as many seats as possible; ultimately Democratic candidates ran for 388 of the 400 seats in the lower house of the legislature, setting a state record (Landrigan 2018c). By comparison, there



were Democratic candidates on the ballot in 2016 in just 368 of the 400 seats in the lower house. The composition of the Democratic field of candidates reflected the activism of the Trump era as well. In 2018, 179 Democratic women ran for seats in the state house, up from 167 in 2016. More remarkably, 147 of 2018’s Democratic candidates for the state house had never sought office before; in 2016, just 110 first-time candidates ran. The number of candidates under 40 jumped as well, from 29 in 2016 to 38 in 2018. The Democrats also ran a very large and wellfunded coordinated campaign in the general election; with 67 field staff and thousands of volunteers, their effort looked more like a presidential-year campaign than a midterm one. Republicans, on the other hand, operated at several disadvantages throughout the campaign. The state party lacked consistent leadership; longtime chair and Trump critic Jennifer Horn stepped down in 2017, and her replacement, Jeanne Forrester, served for 18 months before resigning unexpectedly to take a position in local government (DiStaso 2018c). During 2017 and 2018, the New Hampshire GOP also struggled financially. Forrester’s replacement, Wayne MacDonald, took over a party apparatus that he described as having “$650 in its checking account, with $15,000 in outstanding bills and $48,000 in debt” (Solomon 2018). Not helping the party’s financial woes was Governor Sununu’s disinterest in fund-raising. Above and beyond these organizational and financial issues was Donald Trump himself. Trump remained unpopular in New Hampshire throughout 2017 and 2018, despite a growing economy and a general absence of new foreign crises. Trump’s unpopularity fueled Democratic enthusiasm, activism, and fund-raising, but it was a heavy drag on New Hampshire’s Republican Party. When the votes were finally counted on election day, Democrats won majorities in both houses of the state legislature, as well as on the state’s executive council, a colonial holdover that oversees governors’ appointments and spending agreements. In the lower chamber of the legislature, they emerged with a majority of 234 of 400 seats—a pickup of nearly 60 seats. Perhaps more impressively, Democrats flipped five seats in the state senate to win a majority of 14 seats to the Republicans’ 10. This is particularly noteworthy since Republicans had drawn state senate district lines after the 2010 elections specifically to protect its Republican majority (just as they had done for decades previously). In 2018, however, the strength of the Democratic wave was enough to sweep Democrats to control of the state senate for the first time in a decade, with a 14–10


majority (Barrick et al. 2016). And the Democrats flipped two seats on the executive council to win a 3–2 majority there for the first time since 2008. Figure 4.1 illustrates the territory where Democrats won in 2018, relative to Trump’s performance in 2016. The Democrats’ successes in the lower chamber of the state legislature largely came in districts where Donald Trump had either won fairly modestly, with less than 55% of the vote, in 2016 or where he had been relatively competitive with Hillary Clinton and received between 40 and 50% of the vote. Conversely, three of Republicans’ four pickups in the lower house in 2018 came in districts where Democrats had managed to win in 2016 even while Trump carried them in the presidential election. This is consistent with the idea of a midterm election driven in large party by antipathy for Trump: In areas that had gone strongly for Trump in 2016, Republicans generally held on. But where Trump’s 2016 support was weaker to begin with, Democrats did very well for themselves. Among other notable results of the election, the sitting Republican speaker of the House, Gene Chandler, lost his re-election bid, and the city of Nashua sent an entirely Democratic delegation to the state house. A former Afghan refugee, Safiya Wazir, was elected to one of Concord’s seats, and two transgender legislators, Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, were elected for the first time (Landrigan 2018c). Cassandra Levesque, a 19-year-old whose interest in politics began when she successfully lobbied to raise the














Fig. 4.1  2018 state house results by 2016 Trump vote





state marriage age to 16, became one of the youngest legislators in the state’s history, and Melanie Levesque, no relation to Cassandra, became New Hampshire’s first African-American state senator (Stucker 2018; Leclerc 2018).

New Hampshire’s Federal Races Both of the state’s seats in the House of Representatives were on the ballot in 2018. The first congressional district was already of interest because it is one of the most “swingy” swing districts in the country, and one of a very few districts to have voted for Trump for president while also electing a Democrat to the House in 2016. Interest in this race increased even further when the incumbent, Carol Shea-Porter, announced that she would not run for another term in 2018. ShaePorter had first been elected in 2006, when she upset incumbent Republican Jeb Bradley in that year’s Democratic wave; she was re-elected in 2008, lost in 2010 to Frank Guinta, ran again in 2012 and beat Guinta, lost to Guinta a second time in 2014, and defeated Guinta in what turned out to be their final confrontation in 2016. Shea-Porter’s retirement announcement uncorked a decade’s worth of deferred Democratic political ambition in her district, with eleven would-be successors—including Levi Sanders, the son of the Vermont senator and a resident of the second congressional district, as well as Naomi Andrews, one of Shea-Porter’s staffers—filing to run in the Democratic primary. The two main contenders for the Democratic nomination were Chris Pappas, a 38-year-old member of the executive council, whose family owns the iconic Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester, and Maura Sullivan, a Marine Corps veteran who had held several positions in the Obama administration. Sullivan was a favorite of national Democrats, but was criticized by some in New Hampshire as a carpetbagger. She had only moved to Portsmouth a few months before Shea-Porter retired, and turned out to have considered running in several districts in Illinois and one in Virginia before settling on New Hampshire (Chooljian 2018a). Pappas, by contrast, had held a series of offices in New Hampshire since 2002 and was known to voters for his political and business activities. He also had the support of Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, as well as Representative Kuster from the second district, former governor John Lynch, and multiple labor unions (Carney 2018; DiStaso 2018b).


Pappas won the Democratic primary and faced off against Eddie Edwards, an African-American Navy veteran and former police chief who defeated state senator Andy Sanborn in a contentious Republican primary. Republicans had high hopes for Edwards, given how frequently the district has changed hands in recent elections. But the blue wave helped push Pappas to victory, with 54% of the vote to Edwards’ 45%, and he became New Hampshire’s first openly gay member of Congress. In the second district, Ann McLane Kuster’s close call in 2016 made some Republicans hopeful that they could defeat her in 2018. But Kuster responded to her narrow margin by building up a large war chest early and doubling down on constituent services and outreach. She easily defeated Republican Steven Negron by with 56% of the vote to his 42%, becoming the first Democrat ever to represent the second district for four straight terms (Enstrom 2018; Allee and Moon 2018). In both districts, Republicans’ high hopes in the wake of the 2016 election collided with a blue wave that propelled Democrats to victories all over New Hampshire, just as it did all over the United States.

The Race for Governor For all of their successes in 2018, however, one prize eluded the Democrats—the governor’s mansion. How did Chris Sununu hold on while Democrats were winning everywhere else on the ballot? He had several advantages that put him in a strong position where he could ride out a blue wave, even one as big as the one in New Hampshire on election day 2018. One of these was, simply, history. Just as the party of an incumbent president tends to fare poorly in midterm elections, so too do New Hampshire governors rarely lose their first bids for re-election. In part because governors serve just two-year terms, unlike every other state but Vermont, New Hampshire voters tend to be reluctant to turn out a new governor after just one term. In recent memory, only Republican Craig Benson in 2004 has run for a second term and lost. And just as signs of an impending wave election can become self-fulfilling prophecies, so too can the tendency of first-term governors to be re-elected. If you think you would be a strong candidate for governor and that the sitting governor is likely to be re-elected, why not wait two years and run when you’re likely to have a better shot at winning?



A similar dynamic played out in New Hampshire in 2018. Wellknown Democrats like Colin Van Ostern, the party’s 2016 candidate, and often-mentioned potential candidates like Executive Council member Andru Volinsky and state senator Dan Feltes opted not to run against Sununu. The Democrats who did run were Steve Marchand, a former mayor of Portsmouth who had sought the Democratic nomination in 2016, and Molly Kelly, a former state senator from Keene. Neither Marchand nor Kelly was well-known statewide. By comparison, Governor Sununu was an incumbent who had won statewide two years prior, and his father was a former governor and his brother was a former United States senator. Sununu was also popular throughout the state. Thanks to approval ratings that regularly came in north of 60%, he looked well-positioned to survive anything but the biggest and bluest of waves (Greenblatt 2018). Sununu had also taken a number of positions throughout his term that moderated his image. He signed a bill barring discrimination against transgender people (NHPR Staff 2018), opposed the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plans (Greenwood 2018), and said the credible sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh merited an investigation before a confirmation vote was held (Steinhauser 2018). Like all Republicans in swing states in 2018, of course, Sununu had the disadvantage of being tied to Donald Trump. But Sununu kept his distance from Trump when and where he had to—as when news broke that Trump had called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” in a phone call with the president of Mexico—without alienating the Trump supporters whose votes he would need to win re-election (Miller 2017). While Sununu (along with Manchester’s new Democratic mayor) appeared with Trump when he came to New Hampshire to present a plan to combat opioid drug abuse, for instance, word leaked that Sununu was frustrated with the White House’s approach to the issue and Trump’s description of the state (Alemany 2018). Trump also did not return to the Granite State to campaign for Sununu or for other Republican candidates during 2018 (Wagner and Zezima 2018). It was Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, who headlined a Sununu re-election fundraiser not long after Trump’s visit to the state, and the governor’s occasional visits to Washington tended to result in photos with Pence, rather than with Trump (Chooljian 2018b).


Sununu also had the benefit of the state’s growing economy, and an unemployment rate even lower than the low national rate. While he and the Republicans in the legislature had passed any number of laws popular with conservative activists, this was not what he emphasized in his re-election campaign. Instead he focused on the booming economy, his response to the ongoing opioid abuse crisis, and other issues that were far less controversial than the bills he had signed on voting rights and guns. The Kelly campaign tried to tie Sununu to Trump at every opportunity and also emphasized the issue of family leave. In this, they were aided by a Sununu gaffe in which he appeared to refer to time off to care for a newborn or a sick family member as a “vacation” (Sexton 2018). But Kelly remained unfamiliar to many voters even after winning her party’s nomination and her strong fund-raising was not enough to offset that. She also received little help from Democrats beyond the state. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington were the only 2020 contenders to visit the state specifically on her behalf, and while Inslee was the head of the Democratic Governors Association, that organization did not spend money in the state, even when late polling suggested that the governor’s race had considerably tightened in its final days (UNH Survey Center 2018; DiStaso 2018d). Governor Sununu was re-elected, thanks in part to anti-Kelly advertising by the Republican Governors’ Association in the home stretch of the election. His r­e-election was New Hampshire Republicans’ one and only bright spot on an otherwise brutal election night. But the governor’s margin of victory—53% to Kelly’s 46%—was less than one might have expected in light of his much higher approval ratings throughout his term. In the wake of the election result, some Democrats grumbled about the lack of financial support for Kelly from Inslee and the Democratic Governors Association (Korecki and Strauss 2019), while some Republicans groused along similar lines that the Sununu campaign had not done enough for the rest of the party’s candidates, especially compared to the Democrats’ coordinated campaign (Landrigan 2018c). Mike Dennehy, a veteran Republican campaign strategist, bluntly said that “If New Hampshire Republicans don’t figure out fundraising, they can kiss this state goodbye” (Landrigan 2018b). The election’s outcome meant that, for the first time in the state’s history, a Republican governor would face a state legislature and executive council that were controlled by Democrats. The 2018 elections also saw record-breaking turnout for a midterm election both nationally and in New Hampshire. Over 560,000 New



Hampshire voters cast ballots, with turnout estimated at 54% of those eligible to vote (Rayno 2018; McDonald 2018b). In the previous midterm elections in 2014, turnout in New Hampshire was just 48.3% of the eligible population (McDonald 2018a). What makes this increase even more striking than it may appear at first glance is the difference between the elections taking place each year. In 2014, incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen faced carpetbagger Scott Brown in one of the biggest Senate contests of the year (Galdieri 2019). Four years later, 2018’s midterm presented New Hampshire voters with neither a presidential nor a senate election for the first time since 2006. Normally, turnout rises when higher profile offices are at stake; this is why turnout in presidential elections is generally higher than it is during midterm elections. But turnout in New Hampshire jumped markedly between 2014, with its potentially pivotal Senate race, and 2018, when the most important position on the ballot was the governor’s race. And this increase in turnout was not uniform across the state. In college towns and precincts in Durham (home of the University of New Hampshire), Hanover (home of Dartmouth College), and Keene’s first ward (home of Keene State University), turnout increased by as much as 50% over what it had been in 2014. This is a further indication of both the importance with which those in opposition to Trump viewed the election, and the impact of the organizing that grew from the Women’s Marches in 2017 and the resources that groups like the New Hampshire Young Democrats and EMILY’s List put into the state (Bookman 2018; EMILY’s List 2018). But it also demonstrates a dynamic different from that seen in past midterm wave elections. In 2006, for instance, the unpopularity of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq led many Republican and Republican-leaning voters to simply stay home on election day, just as many Democrats did in 2010 in the face of sky-high unemployment and an unpopular health care reform law. In 2018, by contrast, Democratic and Republican voters alike turned out. Should the same pattern recur in 2020, turnout in the presidential election will shatter existing records and expectations.

The Contest for Secretary of State New Hampshire’s final election of 2018 took place not at the ballot box in November but in the newly-sworn legislature in December, when the legislature was tasked with choosing a secretary of state. For decades, it


had been an article of faith in that the legislature, regardless of which party held a majority, would choose Gardner, even in the rare event of a viable challenge. But 2018 was different. In part, this was because of Gardner’s actions in his term leading up to the election. While he had defended the integrity of New Hampshire’s 2016 election results during the Kobach commission’s meeting at Saint Anselm College, the fact that he had accepted the invitation to join the commission in the first place angered many Democrats. Gardner had also lent his support to two controversial voting laws that Democrats argued would make it harder for college students to vote in the state, and expressed his resistance to automatic voter registration, early voting, voting by mail, and other electoral reforms that many other states had adopted in recent years. On a less abstract level, Gardner had come under fire in 2017 and 2018 for insisting that elections of town officials at scheduled town meetings could not be postponed despite severe snowstorms that hit much of the state on town meeting days. This was of a piece with his resistance to various voting reforms; Gardner frequently articulated the view that voting was nothing more or less than a matter of being sufficiently motivated to get to the polls, and told one New Hampshire newspaper that “People here have the will and the effort to vote…No matter how easy you make it, you still have to have the will to do it” (Lahut 2018). The combined effect of these controversies was to make Gardner look less like the apolitical guardian of the first-in-the-nation primary and more like an election official who could be vulnerable to the right challenger. Gardner’s opponent for the position was Colin Van Ostern, a former member of the executive council who had lost the 2016 governor’s race to Chris Sununu. Van Ostern’s candidacy was in many ways unusual, and not just because it had been so long since Gardner had last faced a challenge. Van Ostern was a high-profile opponent, and his challenge was a very public one. While the decision about the secretary of state position is made in December by the members of the newly-sworn legislature, Van Ostern launched his campaign in the spring. After initially suggesting his campaign would directly work to elect candidates who would support him for secretary of state, Van Ostern switched gears and announced a series of “Free and Fair Forums” throughout the state. The goal of these forums was to promote Van Ostern’s proposed voting and election reforms and the modernization of other aspects of the secretary of state’s office, and to connect activists and citizens with likeminded candidates for office; they also had the benefit of being officially



nonpartisan and open to candidates, activist, and other citizens of all political stripes (DiStaso 2018e). By the time election day came around, Van Ostern had raised $211,000 in his campaign for an office no one had ever before campaigned for in this fashion (DeWitt 2018). The age difference between Gardner, 70, and the 39-year-old Van Ostern helped illustrate the contrast between the two candidates. No one was sure how Van Ostern’s very public bid for secretary of state would be received by legislators. But, perhaps thanks to their takeover of both houses in November, the House Democratic caucus voted to support Van Ostern over Gardner by a lopsided vote of 179 to 23 (Siders 2018). A third candidate, Peter Sullivan, received 7 votes and ended his campaign shortly thereafter (Steer 2018). In advance of the voting on December 5, battle lines began to take shape. With Van Ostern endorsed by the House Democrats, Republicans began to boost Gardner, with even Steve Stepanek, a Trump campaign co-chair, arguing that his fellow Republicans should unite behind Gardner (Rogers 2018; McDermott 2018). Gardner’s longevity in office also helped him line up support within and beyond the legislature. Five former governors announced their support for him, and one of them, Democrat John Lynch, spoke on Gardner’s behalf before the House Democratic caucus vote (DiStaso 2018b). Two other former governors—Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan—did not endorse either candidate. The Republicans in the legislature and the five former governors supporting Gardner emphasized his role in defending the state’s first-in-the-nation-primary time and time again, and also his personal character. The ex-governors called him “incorruptible” (DiStaso 2018a), while Patrick Abrami, a fifth-term Republican representative, praised Gardner’s knowledge of the state’s constitution and its election laws (Abrami 2018). In one opinion piece, Lou D’Allesandro, the dean of the state senate and Gardner’s former high school civics teacher, said the Granite State’s high turnout and clean elections were proof Gardner had made the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office “the envy of the country” (D’Allesandro 2018). A second, coauthored with Dick Hinch, the outgoing Republican House majority leader, contrasted “politician” Van Ostern with “public servant” Gardner, and lamented the financial firepower Van Ostern had used in his campaign (Hinch and D’Allesandro 2018). Gardner himself did not actively campaign for another term, and made a point of demonstrating how much he was not campaigning for a second term. Here the ages and career arcs of the candidates likely helped Gardner: At 70, Gardner was


closer to the end of his tenure than to the start of it, while few thought the 39-year-old Van Ostern planned to spend the next 44 years as secretary of state. When the legislators gathered on December 5, Gardner was re-elected to a twenty-second term in a very close vote. On the first ballot, Gardner led Van Ostern by just one vote, 208 to 207, with a single vote for another candidate. Since this was not a majority of the 416 votes cast, a second ballot was necessary—though it had been so long since a second ballot was necessary that it took the legislators some time to figure out whether and how to hold a second vote—and Gardner was re-elected with 209 votes to 205 for Van Ostern. Gardner survived thanks to a coalition of support consisting of all of the Republicans in the legislature and enough Democrats, many of them more senior figures in the party like Lou D’Allesandro, to eke out a bare majority. Not all 424 members of the legislature were present and voting, and fewer votes were cast on the second ballot than on the first. Had a slightly different makeup of legislators been in attendance, Van Ostern may well have won the secretary of state’s job; during the voting, some observers speculated that the result came down to which legislators had slipped out of the capitol building to grab lunch during which round of voting. In many ways, the result is emblematic of the uncharted territory the state’s Democrats find themselves in as the party controlling the legislature under a Republican governor. The generational and ideological differences within the party may complicate Democrats’ efforts to advance legislation, particularly in the face of a Republican governor happy to use his veto pen. The secretary of state race is one of the more dramatic impacts of Donald Trump on New Hampshire state politics. Had Hillary Clinton or another Republican been elected in 2016, it is hard to imagine a voting commission headed by Kris Kobach coming into existence for Gardner to serve on. In the absence of the Kobach commission, Gardner would probably have been quietly elected to yet another term in 2018, just as he had so many other times, and he almost certainly would not have attracted as high-profile and well-funded challenger as Colin Van Ostern. But Gardner’s association with Trump helped make him look more partisan and less invincible than he had in a very long time. Whenever Gardner does leave his position as secretary of state, the contest to replace him may well be either explicitly or implicitly a partisan one in a way it would otherwise not have been, and involve candidates on both



sides running the sort of public campaign Colin Van Ostern ran in 2018. This would almost certainly have unintended consequences that could even affect the presidential primary. While any New Hampshire secretary of state would be likely to protect the status of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, a more clearly partisan secretary of state might seek to take steps to help one party or hinder the other, within the boundaries of state law. In the run-up to the 2012 primaries, for instance, several states proposed, though none enacted, a requirement that candidates for president present their birth certificates in order to appear on their ballot. As 2020 nears, some states are making similar proposals about candidates’ tax returns in response to Donald Trump’s refusal to make his returns public. In each case, the proposals were targeted at incumbents seeking re-election. A Republican secretary of state might also lend greater support to efforts to limit the franchise, or work to interpret and enforce voting regulations in a restrictive manner, while a Democratic one might try to support efforts to expand the franchise and loosen existing regulations; in either case, their actions would carry less weight than the largely apolitical Gardner’s did. One casualty of the Trump administration, then, could be the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office’s standing in the eyes of Granite Staters. In many states, the secretary of state is a partisan figure and the office is a rung on the political ladder, but none of those states host the first presidential primary every four years. As a result, such a shift could have much larger implications than simply making New Hampshire more like those other states. Another, more direct casualty was the Republican majorities in the legislature and executive council. Just as the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in 2018 was in large part fueled by the backlash to Donald Trump and his administration, so too were Democratic gains in New Hampshire boosted by that same backlash. Had a more traditional Republican won the 2016 election, the same protest movement would probably not have sprung into being in 2017; absent the Women’s March and the other protests during the early months of Trump’s term, many of those women, young people, and other less traditional candidates might never have acted on their latent political ambitions. And a more mainstream Republican would likely have enjoyed the high approval ratings normally associated with a growing economy like the one the United States had in 2018. To the extent that Trump’s polling difficulties are about Trump himself, not external factors like the economy or an unpopular war or foreign conflict, removing Trump


from the equation would have fundamentally altered the political landscape and made the 2018 elections much more “normal” ones. That is to say, they would likely have had an outcome more in line with a political environment in which a strong economy led a hypothetical nonTrump president to have strong approval ratings, which would in turn have bolstered Republicans across the country. Absent Trump, New Hampshire Democrats would not have had so many first-time candidates running for office in 2018, and would not have overcome the gerrymander that had held the state senate for Republicans for so many years, nor won control of the executive council. Trump’s election, then, affected New Hampshire politics in multiple ways. Some of those were large-scale effects; it was the cumulative impact of Trump’s actions as a candidate and in office that led to his poor standing with Granite Staters, not any one particular action he took. Others were direct results of Trump’s actions; if not for the Kobach voting commission, Bill Gardner would probably never have attracted such a strong challenger in 2018. The next, and final, chapter will consider how Trump’s election has influenced the 2020 presidential race, particularly with regard to New Hampshire’s primary.

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The 2020 New Hampshire Primary: A Look Ahead

Abstract  Why are two dozen Democratic candidates, ranging from a former vice president and well-known senators to obscure House members and a small-city mayor, all seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020? The size of the Democratic field suggests that the formal and informal mechanisms that kept earlier years’ fields to reasonable sizes have broken down, in part because party leaders want to avoid the appearance of favoring some candidates over others. Debate criteria may serve to winnow the field. Meanwhile, after years of speculation, only former Massachusetts governor William Weld has stepped forward to challenge Trump in the Republican primary. Keywords  Democratic Party · Republican Party Presidential primary debates · Donald Trump

· Political ambition ·

How have Donald Trump’s 2016 nomination and election affected the way candidates are seeking their parties’ nominations for president in the 2020 election cycle? As this manuscript is being finished in the late spring of 2019, I will not attempt to engage in prognostication about whether Trump will be re-nominated for a second term, or which Democratic candidate will win the primaries and run against Trump in the 2020 general election. Instead, this chapter examines the nomination © The Author(s) 2020 C. J. Galdieri, Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics, Palgrave Studies in US Elections,



battles in each party with an eye toward whether Trump’s nomination and election have changed how candidates run, and who becomes candidates.

The Republicans Since Trump took office in 2017, he has been dogged by questions about whether he will face a significant challenge to his renomination in the 2020 primaries. In this respect, as in so many others, Trump is outside the norm: One must go back to 1992, when Pat Buchanan unsuccessfully challenged President George Bush, to find the last significant challenge to an incumbent president. But much of the political commentariat has taken it almost as a given that Trump will face a serious challenge for the Republican nomination in 2020. Despite all of this chatter, as of this writing only one relatively well-known Republican, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, has officially announced a challenge to Trump; one Trump critic, Ohio’s John Kasich, has yet to decide whether to run, and two others have passed on a 2020 campaign after a good deal of pre-campaign activity. To put Trump’s would-be challengers in context, it is worth taking a moment to review modern challenges to incumbent presidents for renomination. While several recent presidents have escaped an intraparty challenger, such challenges have not been infrequent in the postwar era, and rarely mean good news for the incumbent. It is not that these challengers defeat the incumbent and win the nomination for themselves; no intraparty challenger has achieved that. But these challenges often do considerable damage to an already weakened incumbent, and expose and exacerbate fault lines within their parties. Challengers to an incumbent are less the causes of an incumbent’s weakness than they are a symptom: Of recent presidents neither Reagan, Clinton, the junior Bush, nor Obama faced such a challenger. Each of these presidents, despite setbacks during their first terms, managed to fend off any serious challengers, or even the sorts of doomed challenges from backbench members of the House of Representatives that bedeviled Richard Nixon in 1972. (While Nixon’s challengers did his re-election bid no real harm, they forced the Republican National Committee to remain neutral for much of his re-election year; years later Nixon would still deride them as “two gnats on my ass” [Germond and Witcover 1985].) Factors like strong national economies, personal popularity among key party constituencies, or the



presence of a national crisis left party activists and voters with little interest in nominating a different candidate. In part, this is because denying a president renomination is a very different thing than denying a member of Congress or other official renomination. In the case of other politicians, leaders of a party may decide that an incumbent is too damaged to win re-election, while a fresher face might stand a better chance. This was the calculation that many New Hampshire Republicans made in 2002, when Representative John E. Sununu challenged, and defeated, Senator Bob Smith in that year’s GOP primary; Sununu then went on to defeat then-Governor Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic candidate. Smith’s behavior in 1999 and 2000, which included running for president, leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent, then coming back to the Republican Party when the death of a fellow senator opened up a committee chairmanship Smith wanted, led many in his party to decide he was at risk of losing to the popular Shaheen. Presidential politics are rarely so clear-cut, however; the power of the office, which allows those who hold it to advance the policy priorities of the groups which comprise a president’s party, and the tendency of voters to give presidents credit for good times to a degree they do not with other officeholders, make challenging a president a taller order than is challenging a member of Congress. Additionally, incumbent presidents are generally seen as better able to win re-election than a new candidate would be: Since the end of World War II, only three presidents have been outright defeated for re-election, and one of them was Gerald Ford, who was elected neither president nor vice president. Nevertheless, several presidents have faced damaging challenges from members of their own party. In 1952, Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee ran against Harry Truman in the New Hampshire primary. Truman was unpopular but refused to make a formal announcement about whether he would seek another term or not. It was not until after Kefauver defeated Truman in New Hampshire that the president announced he would not run again. Another challenger helped push an incumbent to a decision not to run again. In 1968, Eugene McCarthy’s strong showing in the New Hampshire primary embarrassed President Lyndon Johnson and helped lure Robert Kennedy into the presidential race. Not long after, Johnson announced he would not seek another term. In 1976, President Gerald Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire primary, and four years later President Jimmy Carter held off a challenge from Ted


Kennedy. But in each of these cases, the challengers would recover from a loss in New Hampshire and go on to win enough primaries and enough delegates to take their candidacies all the way to the summer national conventions. In 1992, conservative commentator and former Nixon and Reagan speechwriter Pat Buchanan challenged President George Bush. While Buchanan’s high point as a candidate in 1992 was the 37.5% he earned in New Hampshire, he nonetheless ran strong enough to be a contender in 1996 and expose the discontent of movement conservatives with President Bush, who had looked unbeatable just a year earlier in the aftermath of the war in the Persian Gulf. In 1952 and 1968, the challenged incumbent opted not to run again. In 1976, 1980, and 1992, the incumbent held onto his party’s nomination but went on to lose the general election. These challenged incumbents did not lose because they were challenged. They were challenged because they were weakened to begin with, by poor economies, or by unpopular foreign wars, or by foreign policy fiascos, or by poor relationships with their parties, or other, similar difficulties. Nor did they lose because they were challenged; they lost for the same reasons they were seen as vulnerable enough to be worth challenging. But the fact that they were challenged put their politically precarious positions on display and in many cases exacerbated the tensions that contributed to their weakness. Gerald Ford could not run against the leader of his party’s conservative wing without causing some bad blood with that wing. Eugene McCarthy’s strength in New Hampshire made it impossible for Lyndon Johnson to claim his party was united behind his war policy. George Bush had a hard time arguing he was the continuation of the Reagan presidency after Pat Buchanan had done so well in New Hampshire. As a result, recent presidents have strived to avoid primary challenges, and usually done so successfully. What is striking about the case of Donald Trump is that the idea of him being challenged has been taken almost for granted since the start of his administration. This continuing speculation demonstrates that there remain divisions within the GOP over Trump, even in the face of many conditions that should lead to an easy renomination. The economy has been strong and growing throughout his tenure (as of this writing), and unemployment has reached historic lows. While Trump has engaged in no small amount of unproductive and counterproductive bluster and brinksmanship in the realm of foreign affairs, he has (again, as of this writing) not involved the United States in any additional armed



conflicts, and he has yet to suffer from a decisive defeat or full-fledged fiasco on the world stage of the sort that the average American would likely become against him. Perhaps more importantly, surveys show that Trump remains popular with Republicans even while his approval ratings among the electorate at large have been poor throughout his term, which sets him apart from most of the presidents who have faced primary challenges (Bacon 2019). In other words, just as Trump was plainly the deciding factor in Democrats’ success in and beyond New Hampshire in 2018, it is the fact that Trump is Trump that has kept alive the idea of a challenge to Trump in 2020. Several Republicans’ names have been floated as potential challengers, in part because so many Republicans criticized him before and, in some cases, after the 2016 election. Only a few have undertaken the sorts of activities that people thinking about running for president engage in, however. Perhaps the most active potential challenger has been John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio. Kasich’s presidential ambitions have never been a secret; he ran in 2000 and 2016 and, when everyone believed that Trump was certain to lose to Hillary Clinton, had planned a speech to the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, November 10, 2016, in which he was expected to lay out his vision of the Republican Party’s future. When Trump won the election, Kasich canceled these plans (Thompson 2016). But Kasich retained a large following among his fellow “NeverTrump” Republicans in New Hampshire. Throughout 2017 and 2018, it was not uncommon to see bumper stickers reading “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kasich” on cars parked near the state capitol building in Concord, and a Kasich banner on his former campaign headquarters in Manchester was visible to thousands of drivers entering, leaving, or passing through the city each day for months after the election (Galdieri 2017). And while Kasich canceled his post-election speech in Washington, he did not waste much time before drawing contrasts between himself and Trump or in making return visits to New Hampshire. In April of 2017 he appeared at Saint Anselm College to promote his book, Two Paths: America Divided or United (Associated Press 2017). He also launched a group to advocate his policy priorities and kept his campaign committee open, even as he wound down his second and final term as governor in Ohio (Debenedetti 2017). Kasich returned to New Hampshire twice in 2018. An April visit included both a talk at New England College in Henniker, NH and a visit to


Manchester’s Red Arrow Diner, a regular stop for presidential candidates. In November he visited the state to speak at the Nackey Loeb First Amendment Awards dinner, and also sat down with a campaigns and elections class at Saint Anselm College before meeting with Republicans in Concord to warn them that the midterm elections had been a “wipeout” that their party would ignore at their own peril (Graham 2018). But as of the late spring of 2019, Kasich has not pulled the trigger on a challenge to Trump. There had been chatter about the possibility of an independent candidacy—perhaps in tandem with John Hickenlooper, the Democratic former governor of Colorado, with whom Kasich made several joint appearances in 2017—but Hickenlooper’s entry into the Democratic race probably closes the door on that option. It may simply be the case that the idea of a challenge to an incumbent is too daunting, or Kasich may be waiting to see if Trump’s popularity among Republicans declines thanks either to Trump’s own actions or external events. Another person whose name was floated as a possible Trump challenger throughout 2017 and 2018 was Jeff Flake, the first-term senator from Arizona. Like Kasich, Flake had been critical of Trump in 2016, and, again like Kasich, was one of the Republicans who declined to attend the party’s Cleveland convention or endorse Trump once he was the party’s nominee (Inskeep 2016). Flake remained a persistent Trump critic after the election, to the point of publishing a book—which lifted its title, Conscience of a Conservative, from Barry Goldwater’s 1960 book—which laid out Flake’s objections both to many of Trump’s early policy actions and to the manner in which Trump conducted himself in office. But the GOP in 2017 had become so tied to Trump—both at the institutional level and at that of those who identify themselves with the party—that blowback from the book convinced Flake to announce that he would not seek a second term in the Senate. In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Flake denounced Trump’s “reckless, outrageous, and undignified” behavior and those Republicans who excused it (Siddiqui 2017). Flake’s criticisms of Trump did not end with his retirement announcement. In 2018, Flake visited New Hampshire twice. In March he spoke at a Politics & Eggs breakfast, where he criticized Trump’s “degradation of the United States and her values” and called for a primary challenger to remind his party of “what it means to be a traditional, decent Republican and what the party stands for – limited government,



economic freedom, free trade, embracing immigration” (DiStaso 2018). But Flake stopped well short of saying that he would become that challenger. In October, Flake returned to the Granite State and to Saint Anselm College to give a talk advertised with the title “After the Deluge: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle” (Soucy 2018). But the timing of the event made it a talk, explicitly and implicitly, about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Flake’s visit—scheduled far in advance of the Kavanaugh hearings— came during the contentious hearings over Kavanaugh’s nomination, which had been consumed by credible allegations of sexual assault against the nominee. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology in California, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that, when they were teenagers living in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., Kavanaugh and a friend sexually assaulted her at a party; Kavanaugh denied the charges in a shouting, red-faced performance. Ford’s testimony upended the hearings, and led protesters to occupy the Capitol and congressional offices. Flake, a member of the Judiciary Committee, was confronted in a Senate elevator by two protestors, and following an exchange that spread quickly through traditional and social media he, along with Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, insisted on a week’s delay on the committee’s vote on the nomination so that an FBI investigation could look into the allegations against Kavanaugh. It was during this week that Jeff Flake returned to New Hampshire; few were interested in what he had to say on any other subject, and everything he said was viewed through the lens of the confirmation battle (Sganga 2018). Flake ultimately voted to confirm Kavanaugh, though critics argued that the investigation into Ford’s charges was so cursory as to be meaningless. Flake’s eventual support for Kavanaugh was emblematic of the position he found himself in throughout Trump’s term. While Flake criticized Trump on some matters of substance, such as immigration, as well as Trump’s tone and conduct, and often linked the latter to larger questions about the health of American democracy, he also regularly and reliably supported Trump on key votes, such as Trump’s tax plan and the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and most judicial and executive branch nominations. Those who applauded his criticisms the loudest were unlikely to vote in a Republican presidential primary, and those who do vote in Republican primaries were unlikely to embrace someone who criticized Trump as dangerous while at the same


time voting with him almost 82% of the time (FiveThirtyEight 2019). After his Senate term ended, Flake finally took himself out of consideration for 2020, and instead went to work as an analyst for CBS News (Sanchez 2019). With Flake out of the running and Kasich taking his time, some Republican Trump critics turned their attention to Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland. Hogan was first elected in an upset in Republicans’ very good year in 2014, and was re-elected easily in 2018. Hogan endorsed his fellow blue-state Republican governor Chris Christie in the 2016 primaries (Frumin 2015), and in the general election wrote in a vote for his father, Larry Hogan Sr (Wiggins 2016). This was more than an act of filial devotion; the elder Hogan had served as both a member of Congress and a county executive in Maryland, and had been the first Republican in the House of Representatives to call for the impeachment of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. As Hogan’s name started to turn up more and more as a possible challenger to Trump, his father’s turn against Nixon likewise began to draw more notice, as did Hogan’s own criticisms of Trump. Like Kasich and Flake, Hogan has presented himself as representing “the Ronald Reagan school of politics” and a “traditional Republican” who views and practices politics in a very different way than Trump does (Costa and Cox 2019). And Hogan’s positions on foreign policy, abortion, background checks for firearm purchases, and immigration have put him at odds with Trump. But while these are not difficult positions for a Republican governor in sapphire-blue Maryland to hold, the question is whether they would help Hogan appeal to voters in Republican presidential primaries. There, the prognosis is less rosy; Hogan’s heterodoxies are of the sort that one tends to associate with whichever candidate becomes Democrats’ favorite Republican—like Kasich in 2016 or Jon Hunstman in 2012—rather than with Republican presidential nominees. Hogan still continued to act like a candidate. During his second inaugural address, given during the lengthy government shutdown of early 2019, Hogan did not mention Trump by name but clearly took aim at his style of politics, and denounced “debilitating politics” in which “insults substitute for debate, recriminations for negotiation and gridlock for compromise.” Hogan also said voters “should be able to have confidence in the character and competence” of elected officials (Broadwater and Wood 2019). He sounded a similar note during appearances he made when he visited Iowa for a National Governors Association



meeting in March, though he also noted the difficulty Trump’s approval among Republicans would present any challenger (Sullivan 2019). That awareness did not preclude a visit to New Hampshire, where he addressed a Politics & Eggs breakfast and denounced the obstruction of justice detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report—though less forcefully than some of New Hampshire’s Never Trumpers might have liked (Broadwater 2019). During this visit, he also started to sketch out an expanded travel schedule and a strategy for a challenge to Trump that would involve a focus on states with open primaries and the chance to appeal to Democrats and independents critical of Trump. Hogan’s not-quite-campaign has also benefitted at least in part from geography: As the governor of Maryland, he is familiar to the national political reporters who work in and around Washington, D.C., who therefore probably overestimate his standing as a potential challenger. (A similar version of this phenomenon helps explain why Mark Warner was so often touted as a likely future president during his term as governor of Virginia.) But as the summer of 2019 neared, Hogan had not yet launched an official campaign. Time will tell if he or Kasich enters the race. But in looking at Kasich, Flake, and Hogan it is striking how even Trump’s strongest intraparty critics are biding their time in hopes of some external event—the Mueller report, a collapse in Trump’s approval among Republicans, a groundswell of support for an alternative in the 2020 ­primaries—that will provide a justification to stop exploring a candidacy and officially become a candidate. It is not hard to see a parallel here to those Republicans in 2015 and 2016 who were waiting, patiently and futilely, for someone else to take on Trump. The one Republican who has officially entered the ring for 2020 is William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts. Weld is a curious vehicle for a challenge in many ways. He was elected governor in 1990 and 1994, then lost a Senate race against John Kerry in 1996. The following year, he resigned as governor when President Bill Clinton nominated him as ambassador to Mexico. But the Senate never confirmed Weld, since Foreign Relations Committee chair Jesse Helms refused to hold hearings on the nomination, in protest of Weld’s libertarian views on abortion and gay rights (Harris 1997). In 2006, Weld flirted with another campaign for governor—this time in New York, not Massachusetts—but opted not to run after he became convinced he could not win either the primary or general elections (Rodrick 2006;


Healy 2006). A decade later, Weld found himself the vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, running alongside Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico. But by the final days of the race Weld was not campaigning for Johnson so much as he was for Hillary Clinton, vouching for her character and qualifications during interviews and urging voters deciding between Clinton and Trump to vote for the Democratic candidate (Blake 2016). The path of Weld’s career since leaving the governor’s office had taken him through two states and two parties. He lacked the profile and immediacy of Kasich and Flake and Hogan. But he also had far less to lose than any of those other candidates. During the spring of 2019, he first announced an exploratory campaign at a Politics & Eggs breakfast in February, then became a formal candidate in April (DiStaso 2019; Easley 2019). This means that, no matter what Kasich or Hogan might decide to do, there will be at least one official challenger to Trump. At this writing, Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, a blue-state Republican like Weld, has already made clear his preference for Weld over Trump. What are the prospects of Weld’s challenge with rank-and-file primary voters, and with party leaders who don’t rely on crossover votes from liberal and Democratic voters to get re-elected? Weld himself knows his primary history well; when I introduced myself to him at Politics & Eggs as someone who teaches a course on the New Hampshire primary, he immediately launched into a discussion of Estes Kefauver’s candidacy in 1952. It makes sense that Weld would look to Kefauver for inspiration on his campaign, since Kefauver defeated an incumbent president in New Hampshire. But that was many years ago, against an incumbent who dismissed primaries as meaningless “eyewash” (Grant 1972). Should Weld’s candidacy start to catch electoral fire, it is hard to imagine Trump sitting out the contest the way Truman did, or having the self-restraint to use an update of the Rose Garden strategy Jimmy Carter used to fend off Ted Kennedy’s challenge in 1980. Indeed, some Republicans have already started taking steps to try to shore up Trump’s prospects in the 2020 primaries in New Hampshire and in other states. Two New Hampshire Trump supporters, for instance, proposed changing to the state party’s bylaws to require party officers to back the incumbent in the state’s presidential primary. After pushback from Trump critics in the party, as well as from Governor Chris Sununu, the proposal was withdrawn (DiStatso 2018). It is important to bear two things in mind. First, proposals like this rarely come from



a position of confidence and strength; incumbents who are not worried about a challenger do not see their supporters try to change party rules to limit any challenge’s support among party leaders. But the second is that this proposal demonstrates the extent to which many party leaders, not four years after trying and failing to prevent Trump’s nomination, have accepted and embraced him as their party’s standard-bearer. And while rules changes often come from a place of weakness, that does not mean they cannot also be effective. In Massachusetts, for instance, the state party has revised its rules to award all of its delegates to the Republican National Convention to any candidate who clears 50% of the vote in the state’s presidential primary; before this change, delegates were allocated proportionately to a candidate’s performance (Murray 2019). This move hurts the chances of Weld or another challenger by making it all but impossible for them to win any delegates against Trump; indeed, it seems clearly aimed at thwarting the sort of strategy Larry Hogan suggested he would use if he became a candidate. Still, even an unsuccessful challenge holds the potential to do harm to Trump’s re-election prospects, and that might be enough for those Republicans who find Trump and his administration not just objectionable but also genuinely threatening to the survival American republic. Note that those most often mentioned as potential challengers are either former officeholders with little to lose, or a term-limited Republican governor from a blue state. In this respect, Trump’s potential challengers resemble the loudest of his critics within the party in 2016. While their opposition may well be rooted in principle and concern for their party and their country, they are also among those in the party who no longer hold office or whose time in office is winding down and thus do not have that much to lose by criticizing or even running against Trump. The great challenge facing Trump’s intraparty critics lies not just in persuading primary voters and caucus-goers to oppose Trump, but in persuading those who hope that their political careers have many years to go that it is in their interest to oppose Trump openly, to the point of supporting an alternative candidate. That will be a very tall order.

The Democrats Unexpected defeat is traumatizing for political parties. For Democrats, 2016 was particularly painful because the outcome was the election of Donald Trump. But the wave of activism unleashed in 2017 and the


party’s successes in the 2018 election have made many in the party optimistic about their chances in the 2020 election. However, history and the fundamentals of the election suggest that this optimism may be overblown. Incumbent presidents rarely lose elections, and the trio of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama has delivered to the United States three consecutive two-term presidencies for just the second time in the nation’s history. The race for the Democratic nomination for president begins in 2019 amid continued economic growth and low unemployment. Under these circumstances, one would normally expect the incumbent to be cruising to re-election. Yet these circumstances have not led Trump to have the sorts of approval ratings one might expect an incumbent in this position to enjoy: His approval ratings have remained stuck in the low 40% range throughout his administration, with occasional forays into the high 30s. This, combined with ongoing Democratic outrage at the Trump administration, has helped lead to the largest primary field in the modern era. As of late spring 2019, no fewer than 24 Democrats have entered the race for their party’s nomination. It would be the purest folly to attempt a prediction about which candidate will win the nomination so far in advance of the first primaries; children whose parents have not yet met will be conceived and born between the final preparation of this manuscript and the 2020 Democratic convention. But the sheer size of the Democratic field is noteworthy and merits discussion. Politicians are ambitious and seek office when they think they can win or advance other goals. These calculations can vary from one potential candidate to another. For instance, in elections for the House of Representatives, experienced candidates and novice candidates assess opportunities to run differently. Experienced officeholders tend to wait to run until there is an open-seat race, since such races tend to be easier to win than races against incumbent members. Candidates who have never before run for office, on the other hand, are more likely to run against an incumbent, because they have a better chance of winning their party’s nomination than they would if they waited for the seat to open up (Banks and Kiewiet 1989). Similarly, while every United States Senator sees a president in the mirror, senators tend not to run for president during years when they are up for re-election (Abramson et al. 1987). The size of the 2020 field indicates that many more Democrats than one might normally expect are looking at the state of the nation and Trump’s standing with the public and deciding that they could beat



him if they were the Democratic nominee, and that none of their competitors present an insurmountable obstacle to the nomination. By contrast, consider the Democrats’ 2008 field, which took shape while the economy was slowing down and both the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush became increasingly unpopular. While the Constitution barred Bush from seeking a third term, his dismal approval ratings were going to be a drag on any Republican nominee. But just six viable Democrats ran: Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd; Governor Bill Richardson; and former Senator John Edwards, the party’s 2004 nominee for vice president. More quixotic candidates included Representative Dennis Kucinich and former senator Mike Gravel. Meanwhile, many well-known Democrats who had run before or long been mentioned as potential future candidates opted not to run despite favorable general election terrain, including former Vice President Al Gore, the party’s 2000 nominee; Senator John Kerry, the party’s 2004 nominee; Senators Russ Feingold and Evan Bayh; Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia, and 2004 candidates like Wesley Clark and Howard Dean. The latter group, despite their experience in government and on the campaign trail, and their obvious interest in the presidency, looked at the field of other candidates and decided that 2008 was not their time to run—even though, for many, it might also have represented their best and last chance to become president. As we approach 2020, by contrast, few Democrats have considered running but opted not to become candidates. Instead, whether they are the longest of long shots or universally known within their party, one Democrat after another has joined the field. It is useful to examine these candidates in relation to each other before considering why so many Democrats are running. Three of the candidates carry with them “what-ifs” of 2016. The first of these is former Vice President Joe Biden, who opted not to run in 2016 after making some moves toward becoming a candidate. This was in part because he found that Hillary Clinton had already locked down so much of the support of party leaders, but also because he was still dealing with the aftermath of the death of his son, Beau Biden, from brain cancer in May of 2015. He was also gently discouraged from running by President Obama, who believed Clinton was the Democrats’ best hope of winning in 2016 (Baker 2019). In the wake of Clinton’s loss to Trump, many Democrats could not help wondering whether Biden—who has made much of his origins in Scranton, Pennsylvania,


in one of the Rust Belt states that proved pivotal to Trump’s election— might not have done better against Trump. Biden was, clearly, one of those Democrats. He enters the race as the leader in nearly every poll that has been taken about the Democrats’ 2020 nomination, but it remains to be seen whether he can maintain this position now that he has become a candidate. That he is linked in the minds of Democrats to the Obama administration is an underappreciated advantage he brings to the race (Hopkins 2019). On the other hand, Biden is one of the oldest candidates ever to make a serious bid for the presidency; he will be 78 years old on inauguration day, 2021. The second of the what-if candidates is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders ran a surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries and caucuses, including a near-win in Iowa’s caucuses and a 23-point victory in the New Hampshire primary. This was all the more remarkable because of the depth of Clinton’s support among party leaders, the fact that Sanders is an independent and not a member of the Democratic Party, and the fact that he is a self-described democratic socialist. But as an independent running against an all-but-anointed front-runner Sanders enjoyed tremendous latitude to propose policies designed to resonate with primary voters, such as single-payer health care and free college, without the scrutiny such proposals would receive coming from Clinton. Indeed, one of Sanders’ biggest assets in his primary campaign was the fact that absolutely no one thought he would or could win the Democratic nomination. As a result, his media coverage tended to be both positive in tone and to reinforce the narrative of a scrappy underdog giving the front-runner a run for her money, particularly as he showed strength in early contests and some upset victories throughout the later primaries. This persistent pattern in media coverage of nomination contests has been observed as far back as the 1980 Republican primaries: Those who defy expectations get the best press, while front-runners face more scrutiny than runners-up (Robinson and Sheehan 1983). But as the 2016 runner-up, Sanders faces higher expectations in 2020. And he no longer enjoys a position as the more progressive of two candidates; he is one of two dozen, many of whom are well to the left of Clinton if not so far left as Sanders. In 2016, Clinton rarely attacked Sanders; as the allbut-certain nominee she did not want to alienate his supporters. In 2020, it is unlikely that the many competing candidates will treat him so gently. The third of the 2016 what-ifs is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren, a former professor of law at Harvard, ran for



the Senate in 2012 and defeated incumbent Republican Scott Brown. In that race she emphasized issues of economic fairness and inequality; a video of her speaking on those subjects at a campaign house party in the summer of 2011 went viral that fall and got so under the skin of some Republicans that an entire night of their 2012 convention was spent in attempts to rebut its message. Her focus on these issues led some activists to launch “Ready for Warren,” a group with the goal of convincing her to enter the 2016 primaries as a more liberal alternative to Clinton (Terkel and Grim 2014). Her decision not to run led many of these supporters to turn to Sanders, and many have wondered whether Warren, who shares many of Sanders’ positions on economic issues but has better relationships with party leaders than Sanders does, might have been able to beat Clinton for the nomination and Trump in the election. She enters the 2020 field in competition with Sanders for voters seeking progressive economic policies, and with New Hampshire as a particularly high-stakes battleground. It is hard to envision both major candidates from neighboring states emerging from the Granite State’s primary as viable candidates. Another group of candidates possess traditional credentials and have been mentioned as potential presidential candidates since the early days of their political careers. This group includes Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who came to fame as the subject of the documentary Street Fight about his first, unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Newark; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who replaced Hillary Clinton in the Senate and established herself as a leading critic of Donald Trump early in his administration; Senator Kamala Harris of California, a formidable political talent who would become the first African-American woman to serve as president; and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, whose pitch to primary voters argues that she can best return the industrial Midwest to the Democratic column. Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio who also served as Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is also a candidate. A similar group of candidates offers traditional credentials, if not the buzz that has long attached itself to the previous cluster of candidates. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has pledged that he will make addressing climate change the number one priority of an Inslee administration, and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is running on a platform of bipartisan cooperation. Senator Michael Bennet, also of Colorado, and Governor Steve Bullock of Montana are late entrants to the field. Taken in isolation from the


others who are running, these two groups of candidates would comprise a formidable field of options for primary voters to choose from. There are also a large number of candidates with less traditional credentials in the race. Many current and former members from the House of Representatives are running for the Democratic nomination. Current members running include Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Tim Ryan of Ohio, and Eric Swalwell of California. Former members running include John Delaney of Maryland, who launched his candidacy in on July 28, 2017 and has made dozens of visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, and Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who drew national attention for his unconventional campaign against Senator Ted Cruz in 2018. After O’Rourke came up short against Cruz, many party leaders encouraged him to become a presidential candidate in the hopes that his approach to his campaign would prove more successful on a national scale than it did in Texas. Should O’Rourke win the 2020 election, he will be the first person since Abraham Lincoln to springboard from a failed Senate race to the White House. An even more unusual path would be for a candidate to go directly from City Hall to the presidency. But 2020 features three mayors from very different cities all seeking to become president. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has perhaps the least ludicrous grounds for running; New York City has a larger population than most of the states the rest of the 2020 candidates come from, and past New York City mayors John Lindsay and Rudy Giuliani ran for president in 1972 and 2008, respectively. But to date his candidacy has elicited little interest. Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Florida, perhaps best known as a one-time wide receiver for Florida State University, has also declared his candidacy, but has yet to attract much notice. The unlikely breakout star of the mayors running for president has been Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana and the first openly gay presidential candidate in American history. Finally, two candidates who have never held any political office are running. Marianne Williamson is invariably described as some variation on “a friend of Oprah Winfrey and a spirituality guru” (Shepard and Montellaro 2019). Andrew Yang is a former Silicon Valley CEO running on the idea of universal basic income to combat economic displacement resulting from technological changes (Scola 2019). While these candidates at first glance might appear to have some similarity to



Donald Trump, there are two major differences: Neither is a celebrity of the same caliber Trump was when he began his run in 2015, and both have struggled to gain much traction among the enormous primary field. Indeed, for as many candidates asking “why not me?”, few are outright lacking in any political experience at all; even Marianne Williamson ran in a congressional primary in California in 2012, and Yang’s campaign centers around a serious policy proposal. As discussed earlier, it would be foolish to try to predict who will win the nomination. But this large field does provide some insight into what is going on in the Democratic Party in advance of 2020. First, party leaders and activists are thus far largely on the sidelines of this race. Few potential candidates have been discouraged from running, even when it is difficult for an observer to look at their candidacy and see a novel and compelling reason for them to be running. A large number of candidates appear to be running for president because they are running for president, much like 1970s game show panelists who were famous for being famous. And the pace of endorsements of candidates by elected officials and other party leaders has been slow. Unlike the formidable number of endorsements Hillary Clinton collected before the 2016 primaries even began, no candidate has thus far unveiled more than a handful of endorsements from governors and members of Congress. This could change between now and next February, but if it does not, Democrats may find themselves in the position Republicans did in 2016 and Democrats, to a lesser extent, did in 2004: Waiting for the early states to weigh into find out who their field has been narrowed down to (Galdieri and Parsneau 2016). Should this be the case, New Hampshire and other early states will be pivotal. Another conclusion to be drawn from the size of the Democratic field is that the state of American politics in the present moment is such that running for president is the best, or at least the most appealing, career move many of these candidates have available to them. While some Democrats have lamented that Steve Bullock and John Hickenlooper, for instance, are running for president and not against incumbent Republican senators in their states, from the perspective of these candidates a Senate race may simply be unappealing. Democrats lost the Senate in 2014, were unable to take back control with a favorable map in 2016, and had a net loss of one seat in 2018 despite wins in Arizona and Nevada. For House members, the prospect of waiting and waiting and waiting for the chairmanship of an important committee to become theirs, or for a


meaningful leadership position to open up, may likewise be less appealing than a longshot presidential bid that could, even if unsuccessful, lead to a cabinet position or a higher profile for a later run for statewide office. Many House members are fairly anonymous, and the members and former members running in 2016 are by and large not notably influential or high-profile legislators. A run for president may help them build followings and fund-raising networks they would otherwise not be able to develop. The potential of being the Democrat who defeats Donald Trump may also simply be irresistible. Beto O’Rourke likely expressed a sentiment shared by many of his rivals when he told Vanity Fair that the 2020 election was “the fight of our lives” and for that reason “I want to be in it” (Hagan 2019). And the size of the field may, counterintuitively, helped encourage additional and late entrants: The larger the field is, the smaller the surge it would take for a candidate to have a moment in the sun that could lead to an upset in Iowa or New Hampshire.

The Party Nudges, Gently The large size of the Democratic field indicates that the traditional methods by which some candidates are discouraged from running are proving less effective in 2020 than in past years, as are the mechanisms by which party actors express support for candidates: As of this writing, endorsements from governors, members of Congress, and other officials have been sparse, and rarely from beyond a candidate’s home state. In part the reluctance of party leaders to visibly try to boost some candidates and discourage some may be a reaction to the 2016 race, where many supporters of Bernie Sanders charged the Democratic National Committee with putting a heavy thumb on the scales to bolster Hillary Clinton’s campaign and hurt Sanders’ chances. However, this does not mean that no part of the party is trying to address the very large field of candidates; the lesson of watching establishment Republicans flail in the face of a similarly sized field in 2016 has not been lost on party leaders. The most direct way that the Democratic Party is trying to nudge trailing candidates out of the race is through the adoption of criteria for inclusion in its debates. In 2016, Republicans dealt with their large field by holding back-to-back debate nights, with one of the debates designated the “undercard” or “kiddie table” debate. These debates featured the candidates who were faring poorly in polling, and were in many cases sad, undignified affairs; the first was held in an empty venue and many of



the questions were veiled references to the hopelessness of the candidates on the stage. The Democrats have set up a debate structure and criteria for inclusion that they hope will avoid a repeat of this situation, but one that may also nudge some candidates out of the race later in the run-up to the primary. First, instead of two back-to-back debates, Democratic candidates will debate over two nights. Which candidates appear in which debate will be the result of a random draw, and better-known candidates and lessknown candidates will be the subject of separate draws, to avoid having an undercard and a main debate through random chance. For the first rounds of debates in June and July, candidates will need to reach at least 1% support in three polls recognized by the DNC, or have received contributions from 65,000 supporters. For the debates in September, however, the requirements ratchet upward: Candidates will need at least 2% support in four polls, and at least 130,000 contributions, at least 400 of which must be from at least 20 states (Scherer 2019). Exclusion from the third and subsequent debates is not quite the same thing as forcing a candidate out of the race, but it also does a candidacy little good, and it is difficult to see how a candidate who cannot make the third debate would recover in time for a later one. What is notable about these debate criteria is that they are based on external and objective metrics. A candidate either has received a certain number of contributions from a certain number of states or she has not; a candidate has either gotten above a certain polling threshold in a certain number of polls or she has not. This is reminiscent of grading rubrics that grant students some credit for turning in a paper that is the specified length and uses the proper citation format. There is very little room to argue that a seven-page assignment is in fact ten pages long. The DNC appears to be trying to affect the size of the party’s field of candidates without appearing to do so, since these criteria are not judgment calls on anyone’s part. The debate criteria also are open enough for the first two debates that few should have trouble qualifying; when the requirements become more difficult to reach for the third debate, anyone who continues to poll poorly and have trouble raising money will be unable to say they did not have a chance to make their case to a national audience. The Democratic National Committee’s efforts here are striking in their pursuit of a general goal of gently winnowing the field of candidates without appearing to benefit any specific candidate, or looking as though the party is trying to nudge anyone off stage at all.


Intraparty Debates The large field of Democratic candidates also puts debates and divisions within the party on display. One such debate, possibly the most momentous one in terms of its potential impact on policy, has to do with how Democrats view Donald Trump and his administration. Is Trump best understood as an aberration, whose removal from office will restore the Republican Party to some earlier state of reasonable conservatism? Or is he a symptom, not the cause, of the state of the Republican Party? The Democratic candidates fall into various points between these two positions. Former vice president Biden, for instance, has touted his ability to work with Republicans, based on his decades in the United States Senate, while Eric Swalwell has pledged to include Republicans in his cabinet if elected and Amy Klobuchar has presented herself as someone with a record of pragmatic accomplishments. Pete Buttigieg goes so far as to avoid mentioning Trump’s name in his campaign appearances. On the other hand, candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, by focusing on income inequality and proposals to reduce it, are making a much broader critique of American politics. Cory Booker has said that defeating Trump in 2020 should be the floor, not the ceiling, of Democratic ambitions for the next election. Kamala Harris, who initially focused on broader themes in her campaign, has sharpened her message to include more explicit critiques of Trump, thus occupying something of a middle ground. These differences matter because they are a sign of how, if elected, these candidates will behave in office. Will their priority be trying to move on from the Trump years without looking backward, or will they be trying to fundamentally reorder and reconstruct the relationship of the federal government to the economy and the lives of everyday Americans? There are also demographic divides on display in the Democratic field. The group of Democrats running is notable both for its unprecedented diversity—multiple female and African-American candidates, the first openly gay presidential candidate, a major Latino candidate— and for the number of straight white male candidates. In a party that is increasingly becoming the home for diversity and nonwhite voters, and where women, particularly African-American women, have helped drive so many of the party’s electoral successes during the Trump years, the composition of the primary field means the 2020 primaries will tell us something about the extent to which Democratic primary voters are interested in descriptive representation or in policy commitments from



candidates. This will be especially the case when the race moves beyond Iowa and New Hampshire to states like Nevada and South Carolina.

The Early States Persist The very large field of candidates may also reflect that running for president is in some ways easier in 2020 than it once was. Walter Mondale, explaining why he was not running in 1976, quipped that “Life is too short to be spent in Holiday Inns” (Trescott 1982). Add fund-raising and fighting for time and attention from a small number of national media outlets to the burdens of running for president in Mondale’s day. Today technology has upended much of the way candidates run for president. Retail politics still matters and affordable hotel chains are a staple of life on the campaign trail. But candidates since Howard Dean in 2004 have developed one revolution in online, small-dollar fund-raising after another, while social media makes it possible for candidates to become well-known to politically attentive voters and activists whether or not conventional media outlets pay much attention to them. And online hype can lead to traditional media attention. In 2020, each of the three major cable news networks has held televised, hour-long town halls for individual candidates, from well-known figures like Warren and Sanders to longer shots like Gabbard and Williamson. Much of the Pete Buttigieg hype grew from his performance in such a town hall. The audiences for these town halls are small but politically attentive; these opportunities simply did not exist in the era when Walter Mondale opted not to run for president, or even a decade later when he did run. Another television must-stop for 2020 candidates has been The View, ABC’s long-running morning talk show hosted by a panel of women. At least one veteran observer of New Hampshire politics has suggested that these television stops have diluted the importance of the firstin-the-nation primary (Pindell 2019). But if New Hampshire and other early states have become less relevant than they once were, no one has bothered to let the candidates know that. The web site tracks a wide range of political information, including the travel of presidential candidates in 2019. While its methodology is rather blunt—the tracker counts whether a candidate has visited a state in a given month, with no distinction between one day spent in a state or several, or one visit to a state or four, or one event in a state or many—it nevertheless shows that candidates are hardly neglecting the early states in favor of


other opportunities. Iowa and New Hampshire have been the focus of more candidate travel than any other two states; this is the case for both well-known candidates like Biden and Sanders and long shots like Inslee and Castro and even longer shots like Andrew Yang. Nevada and South Carolina, the third and fourth states on the calendar, are likewise getting plenty of attention from candidates but less than Iowa and New Hampshire. This is to be expected; if a candidate does poorly in Iowa or New Hampshire, there is little point to having laid groundwork in Nevada and South Carolina. California is getting early attention, and the Sanders campaign has on occasion called it a “fifth” early state (Pindell 2019). But California votes on March 3 with 12 other states; it may be the largest state in terms of delegates but its impact in terms of delegates will be diluted by other contests and any impact it has on the “narrative” of the race will be diluted by potentially lengthy count in the event of a very close race. Recall as well that Hillary Clinton’s victory in California in 2008 did little to stop Barack Obama from winning the nomination. New Hampshire, then, remains not just relevant but critically important to presidential politics in 2020. It will once again hold the first primary in the nation, just 8 days after Iowa’s caucuses. And rules changes and anticipated record turnout in Iowa have the potential to combine with the large field of candidates to make those caucuses chaotic and confusing in a way that could make it hard for any Democrat to declare victory quickly (Wilson 2019). On the Republican side, few of the likely challengers have placed the sort of emphasis on Iowa that they have on New Hampshire, making it the do-or-die state for those Republicans who oppose Donald Trump’s renomination, and Trump’s best chance of extinguishing the rebellion in his party’s ranks. For many Americans who might never watch a CNN town hall or follow whatever political controversies are roiling Twitter on a given day, the first time they learn about any of the candidates for president in 2020 will be the day after New Hampshire’s primary. For many of the candidates, New Hampshire will see the end of their campaigns; for others, New Hampshire will be where they demonstrate their electoral strength or beat expectations or have an exchange with a voter that goes viral. Few things in politics, as 2016 reminded us, are certain. Certain winners may lose, front-runners may stumble, and states may change their color. Perhaps someday New Hampshire may not have the nation’s first presidential primary. But that someday will not be 2020. And as Iowa’s caucuses grapple with rules changes that may complicate voting and vote



counting, and as two dozen Democrats seek their party’s nomination, and as Donald Trump sets out to win a second term, one thing is, in fact, certain: That Trump, and those who would replace him, will visit the Granite State again.

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A abortion, 26, 33, 34, 104, 105 Access Hollywood, 59, 61, 66, 68, 74 Affordable Care Act, 2, 31, 33, 73, 77, 103 Amazing Race, The, 12 Americans for Prosperity, 39 America We Deserve, The, 11 The Apprentice, 2, 4, 7, 12–14 Arnold, Tom, 13 The Art of the Deal, 7, 9 Ayotte, Kelly, 5, 36, 38, 54, 58, 59, 62, 66–68, 75 B Bachelorette, The, 12 Bachelor, The, 12 Bachmann, Michelle, 32, 43 Baldasaro, Al, 56 Barr, Roseanne, 13 Basinger, Kim, 8 Bass, Charlie, 67

Bayh, Birch, 46 Bayh, Evan, 109 Benghazi, 2, 56 Bennet, Michael, 111 Benson, Craig, 82 Biden, Beau, 109 Biden, Joe, 109 Bill Gardner Facts, 76 bin Laden, Osama, 17 Birther conspiracy, 16 Black, Clint, 13 Blockbuster Video, 31 Booker, Cory, 111, 116 Bradley, Bill, 5, 81 Brady, Tom, 2 Brown, Scott, 54, 85, 111 Bruni, Carla, 8 Buchanan, Pat, 11, 12, 26, 98, 100 Bullock, Steve, 111, 113 Bunker, Lisa, 80 Burnett, Mark, 13 Bush, Columba, 29 Bush, George H.W., 10, 11, 28, 35, 57, 98, 100

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 C. J. Galdieri, Donald Trump and New Hampshire Politics, Palgrave Studies in US Elections,


124  Index Bush, George W., 10, 11, 26, 29, 38, 42, 45, 54, 63, 85, 108, 109 Bush, “Jeb”, 29, 36, 37, 40, 42, 43, 45, 55 Buttigieg, Pete, 112, 116, 117 C Cain, Herman, 32, 36 Cannon, Gerri, 80 Carey, Drew, 9 Carson, Ben, 31, 44 Carter, Jimmy, 27, 46, 99, 106 Castro, Julian, 111 CBS News, 104 celebrity, 2, 4–6, 8, 13, 14, 32, 35, 36, 41, 42, 113 Celebrity Apprentice, The, 13, 16 Chafee, Lincoln, 58 Chandler, Gene, 80 Cho, John, 4 Christie, Chris, 2, 30, 32, 37, 40, 42, 44–47, 104 Clark, Wesley, 109 Clinton, Bill, 10, 27, 54, 56–64, 66, 68, 75, 98, 105, 106, 108–111 Clinton, Hillary, 18, 27, 55–57, 59, 61, 62, 68, 80, 88, 101, 106, 109–111, 113, 114, 118 CNBC, 56 CNN, 11, 44, 118 Collins, Susan, 103 Comey, James, 61 Conscience of a Conservative, 102 Corker, Bob, 56 Craig, Joyce, 78 Crist, Charlie, 30 Cruz, Ted, 25, 26, 31, 34, 36, 37, 43–45, 47, 55, 112 Culkin, Macaulay, 9 Cullen, Fergus, 35, 75

D D’Allesandro, Lou, 87, 88 Dean, Howard, 26, 45, 109, 117 DeBlasio, Bill, 112 Delaney, John, 112 delegates, 14, 36, 55, 100, 107, 118 Democratic Governors Association, 84 Democratic National Committee, 114, 115 Democratic Party, 110, 113, 114 Dennehy, Mike, 84 Derek, Bo, 9 Desmarais, Edie, 78 Dodd, Chris, 109 Dole, Bob, 10 Draft Trump effort, 7 Drew Carey Show, 9 Dudley, Dudley, 77 Dukakis, Mike, 27, 54, 57 Dunbar, Mike, 7 E Edwards, Eddie, 82 Edwards, John, 109 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 27 Eisner, Michael, 7 EMILY’s List, 85 endorsements, 28, 36–38, 42, 113, 114 exit polls, 34, 46, 62, 63 Expedition Robinson, 12, 13 F Face the Nation, 11 Fallows, James, 45 Fargo, 31 Farrelly Brothers, 31 Federal Election Commission, 67 Feingold, Russ, 109


Feltes, Dan, 83 Festinger, Leon, 15 Fiorina, Carly, 31, 37, 40–43 Flake, Jeff, 102, 103 Ford, Christine Blasey, 103 Ford, Gerald, 99, 100 foreign policy, 28, 33, 34, 100, 104 Forrester, Jeanne, 79 Fortune, 8, 12, 17, 54 Fox News Channel, 16 Franken, Al, 5 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The, 8 Frum, David, 45, 104 G Gabbard, Tulsi, 112 Garcia, Marilinda, 67 Gardner, Bill, 76, 90 Gatsas, Ted, 78 George Washington Bridge, 30 Gephardt, Dick, 45 Ghosts Can’t Do It, 9 Gillibrand, Kirsten, 84, 111 Gilmore, Jim, 32, 37, 40 Gingrich, Newt, 36 Giuliani, Rudy, 112 Glenn, John, 5 Goldwater, Barry, 5, 47, 102 Gore, Al, 54, 58, 109 Gorsuch, Neil, 75 Graham, Lindsey, 32, 40, 42 Gravel, Mike, 109 Green Party, 54 Gregg, Judd, 56 Guinta, Frank, 66, 67, 81 H Harris, Fred, 46, 105 Harris, Kamala, 111, 116


Hart, Gary, 27 Hassan, Maggie, 62, 66–68, 74, 81, 87 health care, 2, 28, 33, 85, 110 Hell’s Kitchen, 12 Helms, Jesse, 105 Hickenlooper, John, 102, 111, 113 Hinch, Dick, 87 Hodes, Paul, 66 Hogan, Larry Jr., 104 Hogan, Larry Sr., 104 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 8 Horn, Jennifer, 55, 56, 79 House of Representatives, 18, 31, 36, 37, 54, 58, 61, 66, 78, 81, 89, 98, 104, 108, 112 Huckabee, Mike, 26, 31, 40 Huffington Post, The, 35 Humphrey, Gordon, 55, 56 Huntsman, Jon, 36 I Iacocca, Lee, 7 immigration, 12, 30, 33, 34, 47, 60, 73, 103, 104 Ingraham, Laura, 15 Inslee, Jay, 84, 111, 118 Iowa caucuses, 25, 31, 44 Iraq, war in, 2, 85, 109 J James, LeBron, 6 Jindal, Bobby, 32, 40 Joe Millionaire, 13 Joe Schmoe Show, The, 13 Johannson, Scarlett, 6 Johnson, Gary, 106 Johnson, Lyndon, 27, 99, 100

126  Index K Kaine, Tim, 60 Kasich, John, 30, 31, 34, 37, 40–42, 44–46, 55, 59, 98, 101, 102, 104–106 Kavanaugh, Brett, 83, 103 Kefauver, Estes, 27, 38, 99, 106 Kelly, Molly, 83 Kennedy, Edward M. “Ted”, 99, 106 Kennedy, John F., 43 Kennedy, Robert, 99 Kerry, John, 45, 105, 109 Kirk, Mark, 68 Klobuchar, Amy, 111, 116 Knowles, Beyoncé, 6 Kobach, Kris, 76, 77, 86, 88, 90 Koch brothers, 35, 40 Kucinich, Dennis, 109 Kuster, Ann McLaine, 67, 74, 81, 82 L Larry King Live, 11 Law & Order, 5 Lawrence, Jim, 67 Levesque, Cassandra, 80 Levesque, Melanie, 81 Lewandowski, Corey, 39, 40 Lewinsky, Monica, 13 Libertarian Party, 106 Lindsay, John, 112 Lodge, Henry Cabot, 27 long-form birth certificate, 16 Lucas, Jennifer, 40, 59, 62 Lynch, John, 40, 68, 81, 87 M MacDonald, Wayne, 79 Mad Men, 14 Madonna, 8 Maples, Marla, 8

Marchand, Steve, 83 McCain, John, 26, 27, 31, 35, 38, 42, 61, 66 McCarthy, Eugene, 27, 61, 99, 100 McGovern, George, 27, 28, 47 McMullin, Evan, 60 Medicaid, 31, 34, 77 Medicare, 28, 34 Meet the Press, 11 Messam, Wayne, 112 Michigan, 18, 55, 61–63 Miller, John, 8 Mister Personality, 13 Mitchell, David, 13 Mondale, Walter, 117 Moulton Seth, 112 Mueller, Robert, 105 Murkowski, Lisa, 103 N Nackey Loeb First Amendment Awards, 102 Nader, Ralph, 54 NAFTA, 12 National Prayer Breakfast, 31 Negron, Steven, 82 New England College, 101 New England Patriots, 2 New Hampshire, 2016 general election in, 17, 28, 53, 63 New Hampshire, demography of, 62 New Hampshire, education levels of, 63 New Hampshire executive council, 19, 36, 74, 90 New Hampshire Institute of Politics, 3, 76, 77 New Hampshire, legislative candidates in 2018 and, 77 New Hampshire presidential primary, 2, 5, 18, 27, 67, 76, 89, 118


New Hampshire, special elections in 2017-2018 and, 78 New Hampshire state house of representatives, 36 New Hampshire state senate, 18, 55 New Hampshire Young Democrats, 85 New York Post, 8 New York Times, 6, 7 NightMan, 9 Nixon, Richard, 11, 98, 100, 104 Norris, Chuck, 4, 76 O Obama, Barack, 2, 3, 15–17, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 43, 56, 57, 61, 73, 74, 81, 98, 108–111, 118 O’Connor, Brian, 40 O’Malley, Martin, 58 Onion, The, 42 O’Rourke, Beto, 112, 114 P Page Six, 14 Pappas, Chris, 81, 82 Pataki, George, 32, 37, 40 Paul, Rand, 31, 32, 37, 43 Paul, Ron, 17, 31 Pence, Mike, 59, 60, 66, 76, 83 Pennsylvania, 7, 18, 31, 55, 57, 59, 61, 63, 64, 68, 109 Perot, Ross, 10, 11 Perry, Rick, 26, 32, 36, 43 Picoult, Jodi, 74 Politics & Eggs, 1–4, 17, 29, 39, 73, 102, 105, 106 Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, 76 presidents, primary challenges to, 100, 101


primary debates, 55 Progressive Era, 27 Project Runway, 12 public opinion, 57, 61, 78 Q Quayle, Dan, 45 R Ramsay, Gordon, 12 Rath, Tom, 35 Ready for Hillary, 57 Reagan, Ronald, 4, 5, 7, 11, 58, 98–100, 104 Red Arrow Diner, 102 Redford, Robert, 6 Reform Party, 10–12 Republican National Convention, 14, 55, 59, 66, 107 Republican Party, 11, 19, 26, 32, 37, 79, 99, 101, 116 retail politics, 38, 40, 42, 117 Richardson, Bill, 109 Robbins, Tony, 11 Roberts, John, 4 Robinson, Eugene, 45 Romney, George, 26 Romney, Mitt, 17, 18, 26, 30, 36, 38, 47, 61, 66 Rubio, Marco, 3, 25–27, 29, 30, 32, 36, 37, 43–47, 55 Ryan, Paul, 34 Ryan, Tim, 112 S Saint Anselm College, 1, 2, 40, 44, 59, 101, 103 same-sex marriage, 26, 33 Sanborn, Andy, 82

128  Index Sanders, Bernie, 27, 58, 59, 110, 114, 116 Sanders, Levi, 81 Santorum, Rick, 26, 31, 36, 40, 44 Scala, Dante, 34, 54, 64 Scaramucci, Anthony, 35 Schwarzenegger, Arnold, 5 Scott, Phil, 106 Senate Judiciary Committee, 103 Sex and the City, 8 shadow delegates, 55 Shaheen, Jeanne, 39, 54, 60, 67, 74, 81, 85, 87, 99 Shea-Porter, Carol, 66, 67, 74, 81 Shriver, Sargent, 46 Smith, Bob, 39, 56, 99 Social Security, 34 South Carolina presidential primary, 32 Spin City, 9 Spy magazine, 7 Stassen, Harold, 3 Stepanek, Steve, 87 Stephanopoulos, George, 16 Stockdale, James B., 45 Stone, Sharon, 4 Street Fight, 111 Sullivan, Maura, 81 Sullivan, Peter, 87 Sununu, Chris, 37, 38, 67, 74, 77, 82, 86, 106 Sununu, John E., 35, 39, 56, 99 superdelegates, 58 Supreme Court, 75, 83, 103 Survivor, 12, 13 Swalwell, Eric, 112, 116 T taxes, 26, 28 Thompson, Fred, 5 trade, 2, 12, 103

Truman, Harry S., 27, 38, 99, 106 Trump, Donald, 1–7, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 25, 28, 29, 32, 33, 37, 39, 43, 45, 56–58, 63, 66–68, 75, 79, 80, 83, 88, 89, 97, 100, 107, 110, 111, 113, 114, 116, 118, 119 Trump, Ivana, 8 Trump family, 6 Trump Tower, 7, 25 Twitter, 17, 75, 76, 118 Two Paths: America Divided or United, 101 U Udall, Morris, 46 United States Capitol, 4, 73 United States Football League, 7 Useem, Jesse, 12 V Van Ostern, Colin, 68, 83, 86–89 Ventura, Jesse, 10, 12 The View, 16, 117 Volinsky, Andru, 83 voter fraud conspiracy theories and disproof, 76 W Walker, Scott, 31, 33, 38, 40, 42 Wall Street Journal, 7 Warner, Mark, 105, 109 Warren, Elizabeth, 59, 110, 111, 116, 117 Washington Post, 16 Watergate, 5, 104 Wazir, Safiya, 80 Webb, Jim, 58 Webb, Robert, 13


Weicker, Lowell, 10, 11 Weld, William, 105 The West Wing, 2 Weymouth, Lally, 16 White House, 1, 5, 11, 16, 25, 27, 35, 47, 57, 58, 73, 74, 78, 83, 112 White House Correspondents’ Association, 16 WikiLeaks, 61 Williamson, Marianne, 112, 113, 117 Winfrey, Oprah, 8, 112 The Wire, 14


Wisconsin, 18, 31, 33, 38, 55, 61–63, 68 Women’s Marches, 85 World War II, 11, 28, 57, 60, 99 Y Yang, Andrew, 112, 118 YouTube, 30 Z Zoolander, 8