Hillary Clinton Dominating the Surrogate Game in New Hampshire

As candidates hit the homestretch, fill-ins matter, organizers say.

Despite winning New Hampshire eight years ago, Clinton has struggled against the popular senator from neighboring Vermont. Recent polls have varied; some show the two Democrats in a dead-heat, while another gives Sanders a 10-point lead.

Less than five weeks until the primary, University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala says winning “the surrogate game” matters.

“This time of year especially, the most scarce commodity available is the candidate’s time,” he told ABC News. “The next best thing is a surrogate.”

Surrogates are often asked to do the heavy lifting with particular constituencies and demographics. While few people have heard of state Sen.r Jeff Woodburn outside of northern New Hampshire, his support means Clinton, who's campaigning in Los Angeles today, has an active campaign in remote northern communities, where snow and ice routinely deter candidate visits.

“It’s invigorating to your supporters and your volunteers,” said Bitter, who runs the state's conservative 603 Alliance. “People are always very impressed [with Heidi]. They see her, and they think it reflects on her husband.”

But others, including the Sanders campaign, are downplaying the significance of substitute campaigners.

“The level of enthusiasm for Bernie and his message that we’re seeing in the Granite State is unlike any other campaign in either party,” said Karthik Ganapathy, Sanders’ New Hampshire communications director. “The amount of hours volunteers are putting in, the visceral enthusiasm we see at rallies, the canvassers going door to door ; that could make the crucial difference.”