The fall colors started slowly here, so we recently decided to drive several hundred miles and enjoy a few autumnal days in the northeast.
After a Hudson River cruise, the FDR museum, and some leaf peeping, I happened upon the Granite State. Everything in New England seems nearby, at least mileage-wise. Compared to the far-flung places I’ve lived in, the Heartland and Western United States, it’s amazing.
Like a curious investigative reporter, I stumbled into a local diner on a Thursday and a couple other locations in the southwest part of the state. These were over 60 miles from the well-known Manchester/Nashua area, closer geographically and culturally to Boston than greater New Hampshire.
Winchester is a working-class village close to the Connecticut River, which is politically split. Donald Trump bettered Joe Biden by literally two votes in 2020.
A blue-collar gentleman was not worried about grievance or wokeness as much as profligate spending and the Democrats’ unrelenting green agenda.
“I come from a family of Democrats and think of myself as Independent,” he explained. “I voted for Trump twice and would do so again, but I will keep my mind open and probably go with Ron DeSantis or Tim Scott for the primary. I cannot understand why the left has abandoned the working class for Big Tech and the rich environmental lobby.
A winsome middle-aged Republican told me, “Trump has some monomaniacal focus on himself instead of the country’s future. It’s different from 2016. He’s really not even campaigning.”
She added the January 6 capitol riots also became a turning point for her. She is now deciding between Nikki Haley and even Chris Christie, who, like eight years ago, is betting it all on New Hampshire.
Just a dozen miles north present a different world. Keene is a liberal college town where Democrat presidential candidates have won nearly 70% of the vote in the last five elections. It was basically impossible to find a conservative.
After one young man shunned my questions, his friend– who seemed to be at a grad student level–said he’s for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. but would “begrudgingly” support Biden next fall as nominee.
“I don’t know how Trump and Biden are the only options in a country this huge and diverse,” he added.
When pressed if he liked any Republican, he said, “Maybe the Vivek guy, but probably not.”
I next found an elderly libertarian fellow who said he’d vote in the state’s open Republican primary. Though noting he’s still undecided, he explained “definitely not Trump, DeSantis or Vivek,” before saying Christie and Scott were his top options. He also said he’s concerned with how the “far left and paleo right” will handle ongoing foreign policy challenges.
The Granite State’s 2024 primary occurs in about 90 days and will be a critical early test of Trump’s comeback bid. The GOP winner of the first-in-the-nation primary has taken the presidential nomination every time, going back to Dwight Eisenhower.
Meanwhile, state and national Democrats remain at odds over scheduling the primary, and New Hampshire could forfeit convention delegates if it ignores DNC rules. That said, it could test Biden’s strength whenever the primary is held since many liberals prefer a younger candidate.
And no, a dubious figure like Kennedy is not a viable Democrat option, especially as he’s running an independent campaign and — despite his left-leaning views — will draw as many or more Republican/Trump voters anyway, due to his anti-vaccine, anti-Ukraine “outsider” stances.