Nineteen presidential candidates traveled to the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention for the state's first cattle call before the 2020 primaries. Here are some things to know and to look for during speeches Saturday.
Democratic candidates speaking
Each candidate is getting about 7-10 minutes at the podium. The event started at 9 a.m. this morning.
The New Hampshire 2015 Party Convention was disrupted by a fair amount of booing and hissing from several Bernie Sanders supporters who where unhappy when party officials and state lawmakers touted their early support for Hillary Clinton. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz notoriously faced jeers from audience members during her address. This year, national and state officials hope to head off discord with a message of unity.
Live Free or Die
Since 2002, undeclared voters have made up over 40% of the state's registered electorate. This plurality of voters can choose a Republican or Democratic ballot come primary day. Without a competitive Republican primary contest in 2020, expect curious independents to look for a Democratic candidate that speaks to their sensibilities. Moderate candidates are likely to make their pitch to these Granite Staters.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party has 36 times the cash on hand as its Republican counterpart, according to New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley. But much of that has come from Democratic presidential candidate purchases of the New Hampshire voter roll, which sells for a whopping $100,000. And while President Trump lost New Hampshire by less than 3,000 votes in 2016, for the moment recent demographic shifts and state contests show the Granite state trending Democratic. Midterm elections in 2018 saw the state Senate, House and Executive Council flip from Republican to Democrat.
Trump and New Hampshire
When presidential candidates take the stage Saturday, they'll be speaking in the same arena as President Trump did during his Manchester campaign rally. He filled the arena with some 11,500 people, besting blowout concerts. Mr. Trump's approval rating in New Hampshire hovers at 42% according to a recent UNH survey, while 53% disapprove. The Trump campaign says a strong economy and low unemployment rate make New Hampshire winnable.
New Hampshire: First in the nation status
Security concerns around Iowa and Nevada's virtual caucuses and speculation about paper ballots has prompted the state's traditional defenses of its "first-in-the-nation" status. Longtime New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told CBS News, "This is a 100-year tradition." The 2020 primary marks the 100th anniversary of New Hampshire's tradition of voting first, a ritual that predates Iowa's "first-in-the-nation" caucus. "There's nothing stopping me from setting it in December," Gardner said, in order to preempt any state that would try to take New Hampshire's status away. The DNC has promised to "resolve this issue without impacting the calendar."
Skin in the Game
New Hampshire has a history of "going its own way" and shunting aside Democratic front-runners for lesser known candidates. It denied Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton primary wins despite their eventual nomination to the Democratic ticket. Some candidates have spent more time here than others. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have campaigned for 8 days and 12 days respectively in New Hampshire, while Kamala Harris has only spent 6 days with Granite State voters.
Democrats trolling the GOP?
As Democrats enter the arena for Saturday's convention, they'll be greeted by digital billboards touting "Keep America Great" and New Hampshire approval ratings for popular Republican Governor Chris Sununu, paid for by the Republican National Committee and New Hampshire GOP. The party has also purchased digital ads on Google and Facebook, redirecting viewers to a mock "Error 404 Page not found" website, taking aim at Democratic candidates for governor Andru Volinsky and Dan Feltes. Those inside the arena will see geolocated Snapchat filters on their phones, featuring a clown graphic and "Welcome to the 2020 Democratic Circus" banner, paid for by the Trump campaign.
More New Hampshire politics insights
You can check out this week's edition of Anthony Salvanto's podcast "Where did you Get this Number?" on Stitcher or Spotify. On this week's episode, "Haven't I Seen You Before? Celebrity Politicians And Retail Politics, 2020 Style," CBS News political analyst Leonard Steinhorn and I join Anthony to explore how presidential campaigns are running nationally and locally, as well as the history of presidential primaries and whether you need to be a "celebrity" to run for president.