On the trail: The final frenzy before the election

  • FILE - This pair of 2020 file photos shows Democrat challenger Dan Feltes, left, and Republican incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu, right, who are running for New Hampshire governor in the Nov. 3, 2020, general election. (AP Photos, File)

For the Monitor
Published: 10/30/2020 4:45:49 PM

As of now, it’s unlikely that we’ll see either Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden or President Donald Trump in New Hampshire during the final stretch leading up to Election Day on Tuesday.

The president campaigned in New Hampshire last weekend, holding a rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in the same hangar where he stopped in late August, following the Republican National Convention.

Vice President Mike Pence recently stopped in Portsmouth for a rally, and a parade of high profile Trump surrogates have passed through the Granite State this month.

The Republican National Committee’s Nina McLaughlin told the Monitor that “the final days are completely devoted to making sure that every single voter we’ve targeted is getting out and voting for the GOP ticket.”

Neither Biden nor running mate Sen. Kamala Harris of California have campaigned in-person in New Hampshire during the general election, but their spouses Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff have each made a couple of stops in the state in recent weeks, as have other high-profile surrogates.

One of them, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, returns to New Hampshire this weekend. The progressive champion who battled Biden during the Democratic primaries will campaign Saturday in Keene at noon and Lebanon at 2 p.m.

Trump Victory in New Hampshire, which is the combined efforts of the Trump campaign and the RNC, will hold an election night gathering Tuesday evening at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Manchester. Joining them will be GOP Senate nominee Corky Messner and First Congressional District Republican nominee Matt Mowers. Gov. Chris Sununu will be holding his own gathering in a separate ballroom at the Doubletree Hotel. Second Congressional District Republican nominee Steve Negron will hold his in Nashua.

Due to restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic candidates’ election night gatherings will look very different than in years past. The party and the campaigns had not released details by Friday afternoon of what was planned.

Record breaking vote

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office reported this week that 181,577 people have already voted by absentee ballot.

The number of returned ballots already far surpasses the 75,305 absentee ballots cast in New Hampshire during the entire 2016 general election. Absentee ballots accounted for roughly 10% of the 2016 turnout in the state.

Granite Staters can request an absentee ballot until 5 p.m. on the day before the Nov. 3 election. To count, ballots have to be received by a city or town clerk by 5 p.m. the day of the election, either through the mail or by dropping them off at selected polling places across the state that have official ballot boxes.

So when will election officials begin to count this record-breaking amount of absentee ballots?

Thanks to a bill passed at the end of June by state lawmakers, pre-processing of the ballots started on Thursday.

“That allows the moderators and clerks to open the outer envelope and look at the affidavit envelope that actually contains the ballot and make sure the voter signed the affidavit and make sure everything else is in order,” deputy secretary of State David Scanlan said. “If they find defects, they have an opportunity to contact the voter so the defect can be cured.”

Officials will start counting absentee ballots when the polls close on Election Day.

Poll position

The two latest public opinion polls in New Hampshire each indicate Biden with an eight point lead over the president in the race for the battleground state’s four electoral votes.

A Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll showed Biden ahead of Trump 52%-44% among likely voters. A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll indicated the former vice president topping the GOP incumbent in the White House 53%-45%.

In the race for governor, the Saint Anselm poll indicated Republican Gov. Chris Sununu leading Democratic challenger Dan Feltes, the New Hampshire Senate majority leader, 60%-35%, with Sununu topping Feltes 60%-36% in the UNH survey. Sununu is running for a third two-year term steering the Granite State.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen led Republican Senate nominee Bryant “Corky” Messner 54%-39% in the Saint Anslem poll, and 54%-43% in the UNH survey. Shaheen, a former three-term governor, is running to represent New Hampshire for a third six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

In New Hampshire’s 2nd CD, Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is facing off against GOP challenger Steve Negron in a rematch from the 2018 election. Kuster, who’s running for a fifth two-year term in Congress, leads Negron 54%-40% in the Saint Anselm poll and 51%-41% in the UNH survey.

In New Hampshire’s 1st CD, which has long been one of the nation’s premier swing districts, freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas is being challenged by Republican nominee Matt Mowers. Pappas holds a 49%-44% advantage over Mowers in the Saint Anselm poll, but Mowers has an 50%-48% edge over Pappas in the UNH survey.

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