Next up are Rebecca Gobeil, a sustainable agriculture and food systems major from Kingston, N.H., and Maria Carrasquillo, a political science and international affairs major from Londonderry, N.H., presenting on Jon Huntsman. As they outline his campaign strategies—modeled strongly on McCain’s, his candidacy seems tenuous at best. Wearing her red Huntsman t-shirt with the Quick Read (QR) code on the back, Carrasquillo responds to Smith’s query regarding Huntsman’s recent advertisements: Huntsman is higher on name recognition in national polls than Bachman, Santorum, and Perry, but advertising probably won’t make the difference now. Both she and Gobeil conclude that Huntsman’s campaign may be laying the groundwork for 2016.
Gobeil writes, “I chose to cover Huntsman because he seems to have more progressive social values along with the fiscally conservative ones often related to Republicans.”
Both she and Carrasquillo are concerned about the economy and the cost of education. Gobeil adds that she’s concerned about “who is going to make the most jobs, especially in the environmental field.”
Carrasquillo is also concerned about fixing the K-12 public school system and immigration issues.
As a result of this class, Carrasquillo is a “little more skeptical about campaigning.” But she writes “[it’s] important to educate yourself about each candidate, regardless of whether you identify as a Democrat or a Republican, and give equal attention to all the possible candidates before you make a decision.”
Will they vote? Definitely.
Many New Hampshire citizens know what it takes to run for office; it’s just part of the culture. Not only does New Hampshire have the first-in-the-nation primary, its General Court is the fourth largest English-speaking legislative body in the world with 424 elected members. That’s a lot of citizens running for office.
One student in Smith’s class, McAfee plans to run for state representative next fall. Like his classmates, he’s concerned about keeping higher education affordable. He writes, “…we need to be focused on creating jobs and prosperity in our state.”
He continues: “Local and state elections are very important. This is where you get down to ordinary Americans dealing with issues directly relevant to them and having those issues solved by their neighbors.”
This year, the primary will be held on January 10, just seven days after the Iowa caucuses. Smith is dedicated to educating his students and voters. As a longtime pollster, he knows how fickle the electorate can be. He estimates that 25 to 40 percent make up their minds three days before the election. Fifteen to 20 percent make up their minds on the day. He’s even seen them flipping coins while standing in line! “New Hampshire primary voters hold on to their vote until the very end so campaigns really matter,” Smith says. “And I hope this class has shown students how to evaluate candidates and campaigns, so that they won't have to flip a coin.”
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