New Hampshire Becomes Election Epicenter

  • Chelsea Clinton speaks in support of her mother, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during an event at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on November 4, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • Chelsea Clinton greets supporters after speaking for her mother, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other Democratic candidates at a Dartmouth College event in Hanover, N.H., on November 4, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/2016 11:48:12 PM
Modified: 11/4/2016 11:51:46 PM

Hanover — Presidential candidates and their surrogates are making last-minute visits as the polls narrow in New Hampshire, which the national tightening of the race has made a critical state for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“This is a scary election,” Alex Lopez, an Upper Valley campaign organizer for Clinton, told a crowd of roughly 270 Dartmouth College students and community members at the Hopkins Center on Friday. “We need you. It’s close.”

That afternoon, the Democratic nominee’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, came to campus to rally young voters.

Clinton has taken a dive in the polls over the past week with a disclosure from FBI Director James Comey that his agency was looking into a new batch of the former secretary of state’s emails, and as the website WikiLeaks has made daily releases of information from inside her campaign.

Now, pollsters have the race drawing closer and closer.

Whereas Clinton was riding high at the end of October, as of Friday morning, CNN’s electoral college map put her at fewer than 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win the election. The website FiveThirtyEight was a little more sanguine, predicting she would receive around 295 electoral votes and a 3-point majority in the popular vote.

In New Hampshire, a recent poll from Suffolk University and the Boston Globe showed Clinton and Trump neck and neck at 42 percent.

“These next four days are going to determine the next four years,” Lopez, a recent Dartmouth alumnus, said to the crowd. “We don’t want to wake up on Nov. 9 and think, ‘You know, I could have taken time off work,’ or, ‘I could have just missed a few classes and gone and volunteered.’ ”

Chelsea Clinton’s remarks were the same song, second verse.

“Please, keep talking to your family, your friends, your classmates, your neighbors about what’s at stake in this election — because everything’s at stake in this election,” she said.

“I don’t want anyone to wake up on Nov. 9 and think they should have done something else, they should have maybe taken the time to walk or bike or drive to the polls,” Clinton added later.

If campaign officials were feeling the pressure, so were most New Hampshire voters who spoke with the Valley News on Friday.

“I’ve been nervous for a year, and I still am,” said Jennifer Manwell, a Clinton supporter from Lebanon who was running errands in downtown Hanover Friday afternoon.

Although Manwell said the election was constantly on her mind — she received no fewer than three calls from pollsters in recent weeks — she hadn’t yet seen the latest results.

“That’s not a good feeling,” she said after hearing the news.

For Manwell, “common decency is at stake,” she said. “I’m worried that without it, government is going to become one big reality show, instead of focusing on the issues that matter for everyone.”

James Tibbits, of Enfield, found himself deeply conflicted.

Although Tibbits said he agreed with Trump’s populist message, he said he couldn’t vote for the Republican nominee, whom he considered too unpredictable.

All the same, he wasn’t sure whether he’d vote for Clinton or not at all.

“I almost feel like I’m on a jury, where it’s like, do I convict someone or step aside?” he said. “And if I do step aside, who am I letting in?”

Michael Balog, a Republican challenging four Democratic incumbents representing Lebanon in the New Hampshire House, said he supported the GOP’s presidential nominee.

Balog recognized the tension around him — “There’s this feeling in the air like before Fourth of July fireworks go off” — but he, for one, said he wasn’t fretting over the presidential vote in New Hampshire.

“Why shouldn’t I be calm?” he asked.

Hillary Clinton, with her decades of experience in Beltway politics, represented the status quo, he said.

“Donald Trump, on the other hand, might change things — showing a rededication in this country, putting new spirit in our government and in our economy,” he said.

Others, such as Manwell, found themselves yearning for the status quo — at least insofar as it meant an end to the mudslinging that has characterized this most contentious of election cycles.

“I hope it all goes back to something normal,” she said, “instead of something completely chaotic.”

Later on Friday, Trump appeared in Atkinson, N.H.; on Monday night, he is scheduled to hold an election-eve rally in Manchester. Clinton is scheduled to visit Manchester on Sunday, and President Obama will be in Durham, N.H., on Monday.

Election Day is this Tuesday.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at or 603-727-3242.
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