The 7-Day Sprint to Win New Hampshire Primary Is On

Why the first-in-the-nation primary will be different.

ByBrad Mielke
February 02, 2016, 9:44 AM

— MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The calm before the storm ends right now.

Hundreds of sleep-deprived journalists, operatives and curious onlookers arrived in New Hampshire overnight, with another seven-day sprint ahead of them.

Those with momentum have already hit the ground running. Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders, touting their close finishes as victories, were meeting voters as the sun was still rising.

Surprise winner Ted Cruz will hold a town hall later today, while Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton look to re-set.

But make no mistake, the race in New Hampshire is fundamentally different than Iowa. It’s moderate, it’s secular, and 40 percent of its voters are unaffiliated with either party, capable of pulling a ballot for either side. It also has two clear front-runners: Donald Trump has had a double-digit lead for months, while Bernie Sanders has shocked the political world by only seeing his advantage grow.

Behind Trump, a cluster of GOP challengers are in a dogfight for second, including Cruz and Rubio. But don’t forget governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich.

Despite poor showings in Iowa, they’re very much in the thick of it here, and the gloves have come off between them as they fight for their political lives. And while Iowa momentum goes a long way, there’s an old saying here: “Iowa picks corn. New Hampshire picks presidents.”

Voters here say they’ll make up their own minds, and that they’ll take their time to do it. Perhaps, they say, a debate three days before the primary could turn the tide. Storylines will grow and develop over the next few days, but Granite Staters will deliver a reality check next Tuesday night.

Welcome back to New Hampshire, everyone.

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