I went to lunch at the Puritan Backroom, a restaurant which is a mainstay in Manchester. Presidential candidates have a tradition of visiting there. I asked our waitress what she thought of the primary. She said she loved it. She said that she had asked questions of the candidates. I asked if she had decided whom she would support. She said no. She said that she created a file in her computer in each primary; she wrote and compared lists of the pros and cons of each candidate. Then she decided.
This thorough evaluation is the essence of the rationale for keeping the New Hampshire primary first. It is a small state which provides opportunities for retail politics. Citizens have a chance to evaluate candidates first-hand--away from campaign ads and media punditry. It’s not perfect, but the thorough appraisal by our waitress provides a compelling example of the continuing role of face-to-face democracy in New Hampshire.