CONCORD, N.H. — Over the course of four days, The Daily Pennsylvanian staff has attended political rallies for seven candidates across New Hampshire, meeting partisans from every part of the political spectrum (even, yes, Vermin Supreme supporters).
Spread out across the state, these supporters with disparate political preferences were united by two commonalities: race and age. Nearly all were old and white, and some used not the kindest language to describe immigrants, foreigners and Muslims.
Whether it was media-anointed nativist Donald Trump or self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, the rallies were lily-white.
This reality isn’t necessarily a surprise. Primary voters tend to be much older than the general electorate, and white people comprise 92 percent of Iowa’s population and 94 percent of New Hampshire’s, according to U.S. Census Data.
Every four years, media pundits lambast the early voting states as unrepresentative of the country and irrelevant to later contests with more ethnically diverse populations. That reputation hasn’t been entirely earned, given the results.
In previous elections, New Hampshire voters have still ended up picking relatively moderate candidates. Mitt Romney, George W. Bush and John McCain have all won the New Hampshire primary, as have Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore.
This year, Granite State voters opted for something else entirely.
At a Tuesday night rally for New Hampshire primary winner Donald Trump, DP reporters heard Mexican people called “flies and trash” by supporters they interviewed. Before Trump came on stage, a group of attendees discussed the shootings in San Bernardino by Muslim terrorists, spurring another attendee to say, “Kill them all!”
On Tuesday night at Trump’s victory party in Manchester, DP reporters could only find two nonwhite people in the entire venue, one of whom was a journalist, the other a vendor.
These views are hardly anecdotal. ABC News conducted an exit poll of New Hampshire voters on Tuesday, which found that two-thirds of Republicans in the Granite State supported Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from the U.S.
And the results, easily pinned on Republican voters, hardly affect them exclusively. A New York Times analysis of 11,000 Republican-leaning voters identified Trump’s strongest supporters as “registered Democrats who identify as Republican leaners.” He had 43 percent of their support, most of which came from older and whiter voters, the study said.
“It can be problematic that two tiny states with predominantly white electorates can be so impactful on [the race],” Penn Democrats President and College junior Max Levy said.
This cross-party support played a key role because in New Hampshire, voters can register on the same day of the primary and change their party affiliation at the polling station.
The favorable demographics likely benefited Trump the most though. New Hampshire has one of the oldest populations in the country, according to an NPR study from last week.
Sanders, the other victor in New Hampshire, also played host to largely older, white rallies — surprising given his traditional college-aged voter base.
At his victory rally on Tuesday night, the one black supporter I could find, Will James, wasn’t even from New Hampshire. That didn’t stop James from being slightly optimistic about Sanders’ chances with black voters in southern states.
“I think when his message is a little bit clearer, he’s going to probably draw a reasonable number of African-Americans because they all see and understand his approach to issues is substantive,” he said.
Another supporter, Chris Demers, was more pessimistic about Sanders’ chances.
“I think it’s going to be harder for him, certainly,” Demers said, given the mindset of voters from southern states.
This time in New Hampshire, voters made it certainly easy for Sanders. The looming question for him and Trump is whether the rest of the country will be so kind.
Design Editor Ilana Wurman, Staff Reporter Nicole Rubin, Staff Reporter Luis Ferre Sadurni and Digital Director Carter Coudriet contributed reporting.Comments powered by Disqus
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