Here we go again, New Hampshire- that little state in New England is voting First in the Nation- and will it matter? The short answer is yes, big time.
Last summer I heard from outside national media and Washington, DC types that this year's Primary would not be a big deal and be the the final First-in-the Nation Primary of relevance. The justification those who are jealous or envious of the important role NH plays was due to Bernie Sanders hovering around again from neighboring VT and Sen. Warren from neighboring MA would make it a regional race, not national. The other reason was that NH is not diverse enough of a state- really?
I heard that in 2016 and in many Primaries in the past. What happens each time New Hampshire is prematurely minimized, NH voters send a meaningful surprise to the nation that changes the race that national players tried to handicap before the NH Primary. NH made Bernie and Trump in 2016. I vividly recall in 2016 being asked my national media producers to be on a certain network show to do an interview about what was happening in NH. The anchor or host would start in with Hillary has the democratic race wrapped up or Kasich or Bush has the Republican race wrapped up? I said, "What state are your talking about? Bernie is filling the auditoriums with 10,000-15,000 people and Trump is packing the auditoriums with even more people than that.
I said Bernie and Trump would win big, (and they did)." The national pundits saw what they wanted to see, not a populism that was brewing that Trump and Bernie each took advantage of. Trust me when I tell you Bernie beating Hillary by 22% or Trump beating a field of nearly 20 Republicans by 16% was not the script the pundits wrote before NH voted. NH will make a Democratic race real that outside powers want to shrink down well before South Carolina. The whole point of the early states is to make the candidate a better President. In 2016, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump realized states like New Hampshire were suffering an opioid crisis to the levels that we were or that Veterans were not being taken proper care of. New Hampshire has made several Presidents better by being tested by early campaigning and actually having to answer to local voters and media- not national. 2016 also showed that staged or limited events turned off the voters and the authentic candidates emerged fairly quickly.
This current cycle we have seen the DNC and national media attempt to set arbitrary rules and limit debates as they try to shrink the field down to a few. This may be one of the first times that the winner of the New Hampshire Primary may be a candidate (Democrat) who has not led in the national polls or been in all the debates. New Hampshire has shown more than once that just when a national political candidate thinks it is her or his time or turn that they do not win. New Hampshire has also shown more than once that candidates decide to try to by pass NH and focus on bigger states, the lose (Giuliani, Sen. Harris and maybe this year Bloomberg.) New Hampshire will once again make and break certain favorite candidates and send a message that New Hampshire does matter- like it or not.