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After Botched Iowa Caucuses, Many N.H. Voters Left Shaking Their Heads

Sarah Gibson/NHPR
Many New Hampshire voters, including those in the crowd at Sen. Elizabeth Warren's town hall event in Keene Tuesday, were trying to assess the field of candidates without clear guidance from Iowa.

The confusion over the results from Monday night's Iowa Caucuses kept most candidates from announcing a clear victory Tuesday morning. And it left voters in New Hampshire trying to make sense of where the campaigns stand, and what it means in the countdown to next week's primary. 

Manchester neighbors Christine Kane and Shelby Rossetti came out Tuesday morning  to see former Pete Buttigieg, and they said they're pretty shocked by the problems in Iowa.

“Oh my gosh, what a nightmare,” Rossetti laughed.

“When are we gonna hear?” Kane said.

“How have they not figured this out already?” Rosetti said.

Kane and Rosetti are all in for Buttigieg and, on Tuesday morning, they were heartened by early numbers indicating he did well in Iowa. But, Kane said, all the caucus confusion undermines the final results in Iowa.

“Now that this happened, I feel like there's going to be a spot on it anyway,” she said. “So I think it makes New Hampshire's primary even more important.”

Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

Iowa was on the minds of lots of New Hampshire voters Tuesday, but not all of them thoughts the problems there bode well for New Hampshire. At a town hall in Keene for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Patricia Campbell said she’d had a rough night.

“I stayed up until 2 o'clock, and there was no information,” she said. “I finally gave up.”

She said she’s worried the botched caucus will give ammunition to all those people in bigger, more diverse states who question Iowa and New Hampshire's outsized roles in presidential campaigns.

“I'm concerned that Iowa may be the death of the New Hampshire Primary and the Iowa Caucuses,” Campbell said.

At times Tuesday, the candidates sounded concerned too. Addressing the crowd in Keene, Warren acknowledged: Things are weird.

“So . . . we're back from Iowa: Wow,” she said, to laughs.

Warren said democracy was "off to a rocky start" but kept mostly positive.

“Here's what we know: It's a tight three-way race at the top,” Warren said. “We know that the three of us will be dividing up most of the delegates coming out of Iowa. I'm feeling good.”

Afterwards, as she waited in line to get a selfie, Stephanie Ritchie said she has never picked a candidate based on the results from Iowa. But, at least in the past, Iowa has set the tone for the final primary push in New Hampshire.

“I was hoping that the candidates would have a sense of where they stand, and I knew that was going to drive their speeches and momentum, so I was interested to see how the Warren camp did,” she said. 

But for now, Ritchie and the rest of voters here -- Iowa or not -- will have to make their own choices in just one week.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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