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2020 Daily Trail Markers: New Hampshire voting is hours away

A week after Iowa's caucus debacle, the nation casts its first votes of the 2020 primary cycle Tuesday in New Hampshire. After months of shopping for the right candidate at town halls and house parties, voters here will weigh in on the crowded Democratic field, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports.

New Hampshire is celebrating 100 years of holding the "first in the nation" primary this year, but it's not entirely clear how long the state will be able to hold on to that designation. In recent years, some in the Democratic Party have begun to complain that the state's lack of racial diversity makes it ill-suited to be the first vetter of the presidential candidates.

The state has already taken some measures to protect its "first in the nation" status, passing legislation before the 1976 election that would prevent other states from preempting the state's primary election. "The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is seven days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election," the law reads.

The candidate next door 

Candidates from next door have historically over-performed in the New Hampshire primary compared with national outcomes, a point Joe Biden brought up on Friday as he tried to downplay expectations for a better performance here after the "gut punch" he acknowledged getting from his fourth-place finish in Iowa.

With former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's late entry into the race, there are three candidates from neighboring states campaigning in New Hampshire for the Democratic nomination. The others are front-runner Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

This year, they may have a slight advantage, with neighboring volunteer reinforcements, New England commonalities and a familiar media market. But that hasn't stopped Pete Buttigieg, of Indiana, and Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota from surging in polls over the past few days.

Since 1952, when New Hampshire's modern primary began, there have been 17 Democratic races. Seven of those included candidates from the Granite State's three neighbors — Massachusetts, Maine or Vermont. In those races, New Hampshire's neighbors have won six times. Additionally, two other times candidates from neighboring states finished in second place.

The Electorate

New Hampshire's longtime secretary of state, Bill Gardner, has set his quadrennial 2020 primary turnout prediction at 420,000 voters (292,000 Democratic ballots and 128,000 Republican ballots.) If realized, that would be the most votes cast in a presidential primary featuring an incumbent president

However, on a phone call with reporters Monday, New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley said, "I don't think anyone is predicting anywhere near the 2008 turnout. I think we will have a terrific turnout. It will certainly be higher than any other state in the entire nominating process. But there's no indication we'll match or be near 2008."

In New Hampshire, undeclared or independent voters, who make up 42% of the current electorate, may pick up either a Democratic or Republican ballot on primary day. There are more independents this cycle compared to 2016 (38%), the majority coming from the Republican Party.

In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by over 22 points (56,838 votes). Hillary Clinton went on to win New Hampshire against Donald Trump by just 0.3% (less than 2,700 votes.) In New Hampshire alone, over 4,400 wrote in Senator Bernie Sanders' name during the general election.

Read about New Hampshire and the candidates here.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

TOM STEYER

As 2020 hopefuls swarm New Hampshire ahead of the state's primary contest Tuesday, Democratic candidate Tom Steyer wrapped his eighth visit to South Carolina on Monday, just weeks before the "first in the South" primary election. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Steyer was met with cheers and applause upon arrival at his campaign-sponsored block party in Winnsboro, which featured musical performances and food truck vendors—all expenses paid by the campaign. 

Steyer, whose South Carolina campaign has continued to grow now totals 102. The hedge fund manager was introduced by South Carolina Representative Annie McDaniel who was a former Cory Booker supporter but has decided to support Steyer in part because of the time he's spent in rural communities throughout the state.

In a gaggle with press after the event, Steyer answered questions about this decision to bring up race during the Democratic presidential debate Friday. "Look, I was frustrated because we had gone through—I don't know how much of the debate but a lot of it, without anyone ever mentioning the word race," said Steyer. 

"I felt like several times in that debate, we were having policy discussions that are relevant once we've won but we're not dealing with the facts…not talking about race in the United States of America is overlooking a hugely important topic and sweeping it under the rug means you're not dealing with the facts on the ground," he said.

Tangee Bryce Jacobs who was one of 256 people who attended the party, is a leader in the Fairfield County community. Mitchell reports that Jacobs was one of a few attendees to participate in a roundtable with Valerie Biden Owens at a restaurant on the block where Steyer's event was held Sunday. When asked which candidates were resonating with voters in her community, she said a lot of voters are still undecided, but that when a candidate shows up for this community, it matters. 

"They really need to see the candidates," Bryce Jacobs responded. "This is rural America. They've got to see the candidates even if they just come through for 30 minutes."

STATE-BY-STATE

IOWA

One week after Caucus Day, Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) Chair Troy Price updated reporters on recanvassing requests the party received today. Senator Bernie Sanders' and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaigns both submitted recanvassing requests covering 143 precincts. The Sanders campaign requested recanvassing at 28 precincts and the Buttigieg campaign requested 66 precincts along with all of the in-state satellite caucus sites. The party now has 48 hours to respond with any updates. The recanvassing process will involve comparing math worksheets showing how many delegates each candidate won, compared to the numbers reported on the public website. 

The state party says it cannot fix errors on the math sheets during recanvassing. After the recanvassing response, campaigns will have 24 hours to respond with any requests for a recount from precincts that were recanvassed. That will involve opening presidential preference cards that people filled out to show which candidates they supported.  

Price today said that the IDP believes it cannot alter math sheets, even if there are clear errors, because they are the "official record" of what happened. That means only errors showing differences between the math sheets and what's on the party's site publicly can be adjusted during recanvassing. 

"These sheets are signed not only by the precinct chair and the precinct secretary, they're also signed by campaign representatives," Price said. "And so, for us they are the official record of what took place in the room.  And we do not believe that we should be altering what is the official record of what happened in the room."

Gary Dickey, an attorney who served as former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's General Counsel, said the party's view that it can't correct obvious errors is "legally indefensible." Dickey told CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster, "The sections of the Iowa Code to which the party cites do not prevent it from making corrections…The First Amendment right to freedom of association allows political parties to make their own rules for choosing their presidential nominees.  No court is going to block the party's decision to correct mathematical and transposition errors."

NEVADA

After frustrations erupted on Twitter over the Nevada State Democratic Party's hiring of a former staffer of Pete Buttigieg's campaign, both the state party and the Bernie Sanders campaign sought Sunday to cool online tempers. 

"No staffer working at the Nevada Democratic State Party is affiliated with any campaign, and no one person has the ability to affect results," party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said in a statement to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin, pointing out former Harris, Sanders, and Warren staffers also now work for the party. 

"Everyone working at NV Dems now has the same job: executing the most transparent, accessible, and expansive caucus yet," added Forgey. In the wake of the delayed and now-questioned results from Iowa, Democrats in Nevada have raced to shore up their own contest with an iPad-based "caucus tool" previewed over the weekend at volunteer summits ahead of early voting this week. Though the party has refused to disclose the developer behind its new tool or publicly outline details of its process for caucus chairs to report results, multiple Democrats in the state tell CBS News they believe the party will rely in part on Google's Forms and Sheets apps to relay early vote information.

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