The Note: Unity and electability haunt Democrats on eve of New Hampshire debate

The ABC News/WMUR-TV/Apple News New Hampshire Democratic Debate airs at 8 p.m.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The week where it all happened isn’t done happening yet.

Storylines that have bubbled beneath the surface of an often-overshadowed Democratic primary race are coming into an intense glare going into the presidential debate Friday night, which will air on ABC starting at 8 p.m. EST.

The Iowa caucuses that were supposed to help clarify the race have instead confused things. Two candidates are declaring victory out of Iowa, no candidates have dropped out and one national front-runner pulled himself out of New Hampshire to regroup and recharge back in Delaware before the debate.

Seven candidates have qualified for the debate and all have their own challenges Friday night. Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders both come in with the confidence of Iowa winners but the shakiness of knowing they need to notch an actual clean win.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang underperformed in Iowa and can’t afford to be far back again. Sen. Elizabeth Warren needs to stop an apparent slide, while Tom Steyer needs to get into the campaign conversation before another billionaire starts making debates.

Then there’s former Vice President Joe Biden, off his “gut punch” in Iowa, and off of the New Hampshire trail entirely since Wednesday. He is positioning himself as the answer to big questions around electability and party unity -- arguments that don’t work as well if he isn’t winning elections and unifying the party.

Voters this week somehow voted without really electing anyone, and Democrats find themselves on edge and fearing matchups against President Donald Trump. Debates all happen at particular moments in political time, and this happens to be a difficult one for a party that is struggling with its future.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

For a lot of national reporters, there was an endless horizon of snow on the ground when they took off from Iowa and blankets of snow (with some pine trees) when they landed in New Hampshire.

These two often-overlooked states with outsized political roles are incredibly different though, and now it’s New Hampshire’s turn to be in the spotlight.

The Granite State has a strong libertarian streak. Manufacturing and fishing are powerful industries. It has a complicated relationship with gun policy and a high number of independents.

There are only 10 countries, and yet Joe Biden has not been to all of them this campaign. The state touches Canada, as well as Vermont and Massachusetts -- giving a home-field advantage to two candidates in the top tier.

People in the north country like to joke that there are more moose than people. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of true swing voters up there. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been working hard to win them over. As has Sen. Michael Bennet, who is traveling to tiny Dixville Notch Sunday, where the first votes in the state are cast at midnight Tuesday.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

Three days after the Iowa caucuses, the state party finally reached 100% of statewide precincts reporting, but earlier in the day, Iowa Democrats were faced with a major potential setback. After “broad irregularities” were found in the reporting, according to a Democratic official, Tom Perez -- the de-facto figurehead of the party -- called for a recanvass of the results.

The move showed a crack in the united front the DNC and the Iowa Democratic Party have been presenting up until this point and appears to signal the national party's lack of confidence in the state party returns. If the IDP moves forward with a recanvass, which must be requested by a candidate and approved by the state party within 48 hours, they would have to double check their math worksheets and reporting forms from each caucus site to ensure that they were tallied and reported accurately.

This is the first time the IDP is using a paper trail, part of a series of changes to their caucus process after 2016, which were -- in part -- ushered in due to a major push from Sanders' team in the wake of him losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton. But the paper records have only shed light on inconsistencies in the reporting process and led to more delays.

A recanvass could take a long time -- making the process even messier -- as Iowa already appears to be losing its status as first.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning’s episode features WMUR's Adam Sexton with a preview of the New Hampshire debate. Then, ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl talks about President Donald Trump's post-impeachment trial plans. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast. In the wake of President Donald Trump’s acquittal, “The Investigation” co-hosts Chris Vlasto, John Santucci and Katherine Faulders recap the critical moments that led to this historic impeachment trial. Then, for this 50th and last episode, “The Investigation” takes a look back at the headlining guests who joined the podcast over the past year. https://apple.co/2BlcX0N

ONE MORE THING

New Hampshire Democratic Debate: The first debate after the Iowa caucuses will be hosted by ABC News/WMUR-TV/Apple News on Friday. ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, "World News Tonight" Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir and ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis will moderate the debate, which airs from 8 p.m. (EST) to 11 p.m. (EST). They will be joined in questioning by WMUR-TV Political Director Adam Sexton and WMUR-TV News Anchor Monica Hernandez. The Democratic Debate will air live nationally on the ABC Television Network and locally on WMUR-TV. ABC News will livestream the debate on ABC News Live featured on Apple News, Roku, Hulu, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the ABC News site and mobile phone apps. WMUR-TV will also livestream the debate on www.WMUR.com and WMUR's mobile app.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

  • The podium order for the ABC News/WMUR-TV/Apple News New Hampshire Democratic Debate will be announced on ABC's "Good Morning America," which airs at 7 a.m.
  • President Donald Trump will give remarks at 1:20 p.m. at the Opportunity Now Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina, before returning to the White House. He will speak to a group of Republican governors in Washington at 7:30 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Andrew Yang will participate in the ABC News/WMUR-TV/Apple News New Hampshire Democratic Debate, which airs from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on ABC and ABC News Live.
  • President Donald Trump travels to Charlotte, North Carolina, and delivers remarks at the Opportunity Now Summit before returning to Washington.
  • The New Hampshire Secretary of State has a press conference to unveil voter turnout predictions.
  • Sanders participates in Politics & Eggs, hosted by the New England Council and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, at Saint Anselm College on Friday morning. He has two canvassing events in Manchester and a town hall in Rochester on Saturday. On Sunday, he has a town hall in Claremont and a rally in Keene.
  • Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg delivers remarks on presidential leadership and veteran and military families in Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday morning. On Saturday afternoon, he delivers remarks at the Alabama Democratic Conference Convention in Birmingham, followed by a campaign event. He then travels to Oklahoma City and campaigns with Judge Judy Sheindlin on Saturday evening.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., has a roundtable in Nashua, New Hampshire, a town hall in Manchester and a meet-and-greet event in Laconia on Friday. On Saturday, he attends a bake-off with Nashua Democrats and has a rally in Manchester. He has four meet-and-greets on Sunday: in Berlin, Dixville, Littleton and Plymouth.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld has a town hall in New London, New Hampshire, on Friday evening.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has a town hall at in Somersworth, New Hampshire, on Friday evening. She has a town hall in Rochester on Saturday and a town hall in Portsmouth on Sunday.
  • On Saturday morning, Buttigieg, Bennet, Klobuchar, Steyer, Warren and Yang participate in the “Our Rights, Our Courts” presidential forum at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.
  • Yang has a town hall in Widham, New Hampshire, on Saturday morning and a town hall in Nashua in the afternoon. He has five town halls on Sunday: in Hopkinton, Claremont, Hanover, Littleton and Conway.
  • Buttigieg has a rally in Keene, Hew Hampshire, on Saturday morning and a rally in Lebanon in the afternoon. On Sunday, he has a rallies in Nashua and Dover.
  • Tom Steyer has a canvassing event in Manchester, New Hampshire, at noon on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, he attends a block party in Winnsboro, South Carolina.
  • Klobuchar has a get-out-the-vote event in Durham, New Hampshire, on Saturday afternoon. She has three get-out-the-vote events on Sunday: in Manchester, Nashua and Salem.
  • Warren has a canvassing event in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, she has a get-out-the-vote event in Concord with U.S. Reps. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., Katie Porter, D-Iowa, and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and a town hall in Lebanon.
  • On Saturday evening, Bennet, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer, Sanders, Warren and Yang deliver remarks at the annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club dinner at Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester.
  • Biden has get-out-the-vote events in Hampton, New Hampshire, and in Hudson on Sunday.
  • Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”: ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos sits down exclusively with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. And the Powerhouse Roundtable discusses all the week’s politics with Yvette Simpson, Jon Karl, Barbara Comstock, Matthew Dowd, Jen Psaki.
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