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Voting Is Underway In New Hampshire. Will There Be Any Surprises?


And I'm David Greene on this primary day in New Hampshire. And maybe it is worth remembering how much this campaign has evolved. A year ago, Hillary Clinton looked all but certain to win this state, and now she's lagging far behind Bernie Sanders in polls. And a man whose candidacy was not taken seriously is expected to win on the Republican side, Donald Trump. His candidacy is being taken very seriously now. But New Hampshire voters can surprise and someone who knows that well is Josh Rogers. He's senior political reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio and on the line. Josh, good morning.

JOSH ROGERS, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So the day's here.

ROGERS: It is.

GREENE: It's been a big, long buildup, I can imagine, for you.

ROGERS: It has been, and it'll be interesting to see what the voters have to say.

GREENE: Yeah, it's time for the voters to speak. Well, you know, a lot of bitter back-and-forth, more of it yesterday between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush on the Republican side - Bush saying that Trump is seeing this campaign as a reality show, as entertainment. And I wonder, I mean, do New Hampshire voters see it that way?

ROGERS: Well, there is obviously an entertainment value to a Trump rally if you attend it. I think, you know, voters, you know, see Donald Trump - at least the voters who support him - as someone who's speaking to their concerns. And, you know, Bush had earlier said that a win here by Donald Trump would be bad for New Hampshire's brand and - you know, which was interesting. And one thing that Trump, and to a lesser extent, Bernie Sanders have shown is that you don't necessarily have to run a strong campaign here by buying into all of the well-tended ideas of what you must do in New Hampshire. Both Trump and Sanders have been pretty thin on traditional retail politicking. But if Trump does win here, you know, certainly there are some people who fear that it will undercut the validity of the primary and make the perennial fight over remaining first in the schedule more difficult.

GREENE: And why would that be - a Trump win would lead to some people saying New Hampshire shouldn't be first anymore?

ROGERS: Well, the pitch that New Hampshire makes - and, you know, it's by law that New Hampshire keeps its first status - is that this is a place where candidates are forced to interact with people one-on-one in retail settings up close. Voters really get to kick the tires. And, you know, Trump's done a tiny bit of that at the very tail end of his campaign. But it's largely been fly in, do a huge rally, fly out. I'd be curious to know how many nights Donald Trump actually spent in New Hampshire - maybe none. And so, you know, for those who say that New Hampshire forces candidates to actually deal with voters in a more intimate manner, you know, Donald Trump hasn't, and it certainly doesn't seem to be hurting him.

GREENE: You know, I covered Hillary Clinton eight years ago, and she seemed to kind of connect with voters in an intimate way, as you're talking about. I mean, she had the now famous moment sort of tearing up. Has she been able to do that? Because it doesn't seem like she's been able to really make hay in the polls and catch Bernie Sanders at all.

ROGERS: Well, you know, she started her campaign in a sort of a humble posture. I mean, she obviously entered as this sort of monumental front runner, and she started in this sort of humble fashion or, you know, attempting to be humble by listening. She went on a listening tour and she listened to the concerns of voters. And, you know, she's certainly spoken a lot about issues that she says she learned by listening to voters - her focus on drug abuse, for instance. But Hillary Clinton, it's clear, has struggled to really connect with if not voters, with the moment in New Hampshire. She's tried a little bit of this, a little bit of that. She's closing by leaning on female voters, which gave her the edge when she came back to beat Barack Obama in 2008. And, you know, one of the things that's been most interesting, the polling has indicated that more women voting in the Democratic primary may actually support Bernie Sanders this time.

GREENE: Yeah, that has been something the polls have been showing consistently. All right, well, it's primary day in New Hampshire. We've been speaking with Josh Rogers. He's senior political reporter for New Hampshire Public Radio. Josh, thanks a lot.

ROGERS: Good to be here, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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