Undergraduates in New Hampshire for the First-in-the-Nation Primary

Undergraduates in New Hampshire for the First-in-the-Nation Primary

By Elliott Fullmer, Randolph–Macon College

In 2016 and 2020, I led travel courses to Manchester, New Hampshire, where students participated in the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. For almost two weeks in January, 10 undergraduates (on each trip) attended campaign events, volunteered for candidates, and heard from local presidential-elections experts. Although extra hats and gloves were required, students benefited from a challenging, memorable, and fruitful experiential-learning course. Eager to do well in early contests, presidential candidates flood New Hampshire months before the state’s primary. Events are held in small venues such as school gymnasiums, fire halls, pubs, and coffee shops. In a small state like New Hampshire, every vote is magnified, meaning that candidates place great value on one-on-one meetings with voters to win their support. This “retail” politics is a distinct departure from the large rallies and television advertising seen in much of the country before national elections.

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