Sen. Bernie Sanders’ closing argument in the New Hampshire Primary has been that, to defeat Donald Trump, Democrats need a candidate who can grow the base; someone who can bring out young voters and disaffected voters in historic numbers. In the final weekend before voting begins, that strategy was on full display.
Sanders stressed it at a Saturday canvass kick-off event at the state employees’ union in Concord.
“Please do everything you can," he told the packed union hall. "Knock on doors, talk to your friends. What I am absolutely convinced of is, if we have a large voter turnout here on Tuesday, we’re going to win and maybe win big.”
Sanders said his campaign is pulling out all the stops to make sure that happens on Tuesday.
“One of our problems right now is we’re running out of [campaign] literature," he said. "We got so many people we got to publish some more, get some more literature printed."
Sean O’Brien was one of the canvassers at the event. He’s an MRI technician who traveled up from New York City the night before.
“We came up about 1:30 from the city," he said. "56 of us took a bus up. We got up at eight o’clock this morning and basically by nine, ten the latest, we were all out canvassing.”
O’Brien and the other canvassers fanned out across the Concord area, into towns like Loudon and Boscawen: rural, middle-class towns that went to Trump in the 2016 general election.
Another key constituency for Sanders this election is young voters. His campaign has been canvassing in college towns for weeks now, and on Sunday, Sanders held a town hall in Hanover, home to Dartmouth College.
The polls leave little doubt that Sanders will win young voters in New Hampshire. But whether he can bring out a record number of them remains to be seen.
Dartmouth student Andrew Skow decided to come to the Sanders rally at the suggestion of his friend Rose Gold.
“Rose told me, over here, about the thing and I was like ‘ok, gotta go 'feel the Bern' a little bit,’ ” Skow said.
Asked if he was a Sanders supporter, Skow replied, “I think so. I’m not super politically active. But, yeah, I’d say Feel the Bern.”
As for the chances he will turn out to vote on Tuesday?
“I’d say they’re pretty high. I’d put it at like 80 percent right now.”
His friend, Rose Gold, is certain she’ll be voting on Tuesday, but she’s not yet sold on Sanders.
“I’m kind of deciding between a couple candidates right now: Warren, Bi- not Biden," she said, correcting herself, before restarting her list. "Warren, Bernie, and Pete.”
To win big on Tuesday, Sanders will need to convince voters like Gold that he’s their best choice. He’ll also need to convince voters like Skow that he’s worth coming out to the polls for in the first place.