New Hampshire voters taking part in the 2016 primary election will hit the polls on Feb. 9 of next year. Although that’s still several months away—precisely 147 days—candidates are already beginning to step up their campaigns in the Granite State.
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all have trips to New Hampshire scheduled for the coming week, according to NECN.com. However, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with an event scheduled here at UNH so far, which is a serious oversight. This is especially the case considering that such an event would give candidates a chance to connect with a sizable amount of the 14,000 potential student voters here in Durham.
As Clinton’s staff probably realized, UNH is an ideal spot for a candidate to host an event on the seacoast. The adjacent towns of Portsmouth, Exeter, Rochester and Dover are a quick commute for non-students interested in attending an event on campus. The Memorial Union Building’s Strafford and Granite State Rooms are well suited for hosting large-scale speaker events. The very efficient and hardworking MUB staff members would be able to work with guest speakers and their managers to the set up the stage to the speaker’s preferred specificities.
Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion, students on this campus are very engaged in the election process. An abundance of comments about politics and candidates can be heard throughout campus among students. Last October, Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein hosted a small event at Libby’s Bar and Grill. The event was relatively well attended considering the fact that it was held on a Friday night. Students asked Havenstein thoughtful questions, and he was able to connect with the much younger crowd. When Sanders came during that same month, he hadn’t yet declared candidacy. Nonetheless, a crowd of 200 showed up to the event. Considering that Sanders has gained a significant amount of prominence nationally since October, it seems reasonable to assume that a much higher number of students would attend such an event.
On campus, candidates have the chance to address issues that are relevant to voters who will soon be in the workforce and have an impact on our economy. Most importantly, students will appreciate having the opportunity to see and hear candidates in person. There is a connection that is made when a candidate meets a voter in person. For college students, it can be difficult to connect to a wealthy man or woman who was born some 40-odd years ago without ever seeing the candidate in person. But when a candidate shows up in person, he or she becomes more real to the student. Eliminating this perceived sense of polarity between candidates and college students may prove crucial in winning the New Hampshire primary come February.
UNH plays host to an articulate, civically-engaged student body interested in hearing what its nation’s leaders have to offer. Moreover, the location in Durham and the state of the art facilities at hand make UNH a must-stop for serious candidates looking to win the New Hampshire primary.