WebHeader_Grove.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
WEVJ Jackson is currently off the air. We appreciate your patience while we work to resolve the issue! You can stream NHPR here on on the NHPR app.
Politics
0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8d8c0001Click on a photo to find stories by candidate:0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8d8c0002More Content:Our Voters Guide provides an overview of all you need to know about the 2016 N.H. Presidential Primary.Click here to explore a calendar of candidate visits and other Primary campaign events.Click here for our Money in Politics stories and data interactives.Visit our Where They Stand series for an overview of the candidates' positions on key policy questions.Visit our series Primary Backstage to learn about the people and places that make the N.H. Primary tick.To see NHPR photos from the campaign trail, visit our Primary 2016 album on Flickr.

N.H. Was Clinton's "Firewall" in 2008. What Role Will It Play This Time Around?

clinton_in_2008_and_2016_0.jpg
NHPR Staff/Allegra Boverman for NHPR
/
Clinton in New Hampshire in 2008 (left) and 2016

No presidential candidate has more of a history with the Granite State than Hillary Clinton. Her comeback win here eight years ago set off what became a long battle for the Democratic nomination, which of course, Clinton ultimately lost to Barack Obama.

NHPR’s Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers joined Morning Edition's Rick Ganley to discuss Clinton's 2016 race, and 2008's campaign compared.

Let’s start with some history. Back in 2008/ Hillary Clinton came from behind to win NH --- no polls were predicting it. That win came on the heels of a surprise loss in Iowa. This time Clinton arrives from Iowa having eeked out the narrowest of wins, apparently the narrowest in Democratic caucus history. What does this mean here?

Well Iowa showed Bernie Sanders campaign did a pretty good job harnessing the energy of his backers – some four in ten caucus goers were new to the process. If Sanders could does something similar here in New Hampshire, where he is perceived to be on better footing, he would do very well. For Clinton, a win is a win, but her campaign wants a strong finish here -- at a minimum that need is symbolic -- but it could be more than that.

You know, looking back to 2008, plenty of people used the term "firewall" to describe the role New Hampshire played for the Clinton campaign.

Well had then-Senator Obama started by carrying Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the Democratic race probably would have been over sooner.

But it seems New Hampshire may play a different role this time.

Absolutely, times have changed. So has the electorate. According to a recent study by the Carsey institute, some 30 percent of voters eligible to participate in this election either didn’t live here or were too young to participate in 2008. So a good slug of the people deciding this race may be different than eight years ago. But there are some things to bear in mind about that race: Hillary Clinton lost most of the towns in the state but won by carrying cities like Manchester, Nashua, Rochester, Somersworth, places where moderate, traditional Democrats exist in some numbers. She also carried some high population towns in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties. She did better among older Democrats, and among women. Their support was huge for her: 57 percent of those voting the 2008 Democratic Primary were women; Clinton got 46 percent of them. Obama had 36 percent.

The Clinton campaign is obviously aware of this, and it’s been targeting women voters for some time.

Oh yes. If you want to win a Democratic primary doing well with women is pretty much required. And some of the moments from the waning moments of 2008 that people remembe - this famous bit when Clinton’s eyes welled up while campaigning at a Portsmouth coffee shop, for example:

“You know I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don’t want to see us fall backwards, so...”

And then recall this bit from the debate on the eve of the election:

“I don t think I’m that bad.”

“You are likable enough, Hillary. No doubt about it.”

Now these were seen as particularly helpful to Clinton with women voters. There were other things on this front, too like mailers and a letter the 2008 campaign sent out late in the election casting doubt on then-Senator Obama’s commitment to abortion rights based on votes he took as a lawmaker in Illinois. This letter was signed by prominent New Hampshire women, a bunch of state senators, including Governor Hassan, who was then in the state senate. How significant this was in terms of moving votes then is hard to know, but is illustrative of the sorts of things campaigns do at the tail end of close elections.

So far, the Clinton campaign, which is being run by different folks, has been less sharp-edged going after Sanders, save for on gun control. That may change this week.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.