A Low-Key Finale to Sanders' New Hampshire Campaign | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
A Low-Key Finale to Sanders' New Hampshire Campaign


Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday at the University of New Hampshire - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday at the University of New Hampshire
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrapped up the New Hampshire leg of his presidential campaign Monday night with an abbreviated appearance at a quarter-filled hockey arena.

“Thank you all for coming out in this beautiful New England evening,” he told several hundred students at a get-out-the-vote concert in the university town of Durham. “We New Englanders are tough. A little snow is not going to stop us.”

But the blanket of white that covered the state Monday did seem to hamper turnout at Sanders’ final four rallies, which began in the southern city of Nashua and ended near the seacoast at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center Arena. In between, a candidate accustomed to overflow crowds found himself speaking to rows of empty seats at a private school in Derry.

It was a subdued conclusion to a contest that, until recently, had been hard-fought by both Sanders and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. That began to change last month after Sanders took and then held a significant lead in public opinion polls of New Hampshire. Ever since, the battle has shifted to one of expectations, with Team Clinton minimizing the state’s import and downplaying the former secretary of state’s chances of winning.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' son, Levi, with his family at a rally Monday in Manchester, N.H. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' son, Levi, with his family at a rally Monday in Manchester, N.H.
As if to underscore the changed dynamic, Clinton and her top surrogates spent the final days of the New Hampshire campaign taking potshots at Sanders, while the erstwhile insurgent largely stayed above the fray, acting like a frontrunner. During his four appearances Monday, Sanders mentioned Clinton just once — and even then only fleetingly.

“My opponent — her super PAC got $15 million from Wall Street last quarter and we’re getting an average of $27 per campaign contribution,” he said in Derry. “Maybe there’s a difference of approach in that regard.”

Sanders joked, “I confess to you all: I am indebted — I am owned — by the folks who make $27 campaign contributions!”

Speaking in a theater at Pinkerton Academy, Sanders reflected on the nine months he had spent campaigning in New Hampshire, during which, he told his audience, he had spoken to some 40,000 voters.

“I think we have kind of done this in the old-fashioned New England way,” he said. “Nothing very slick. Just people coming out and discussing the most important issues facing our country.”

That may have something to do with his success, but Sanders has also benefited from a serious investment in fairly slick television advertisements. According to a recent Politico report, he has outspent Clinton more than 3-to-1 on New Hampshire’s airwaves during the final two weeks of the campaign, dropping $2.8 million to her $800,000.

Alex Ebert leads musicians at a concert Monday for Sen. Bernie Sanders - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Alex Ebert leads musicians at a concert Monday for Sen. Bernie Sanders
Whatever the reason, it’s worked. According to a polling analysis conducted by FiveThirtyEight, Sanders has a greater than 99 percent chance of winning New Hampshire on Tuesday.

“I think that if tomorrow we have a good voter turnout … I think we’re going to have a very, very good night,” the candidate predicted Monday afternoon. “And all over this country — they said it in Iowa, they’re saying it in New Hampshire — that voice is resonating throughout this country: Enough is enough!”

Later that evening at the UNH arena, several of Sanders’s musically inclined supporters celebrated their candidate in song. Performers included Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Young the Giant, Big Data and a host of Vermonters, such as Phish’s Jon Fishman, Kat Wright, Brett Hughes and Dwight & Nicole.

After Sanders delivered a brief, 20-minute speech, Magnetic Zeros front man Alex Ebert led the crowd of musicians in his campaign anthem, “Feel the Bern.”

“Don’t forget,” Ebert said at the end of the song. “Get out in the cold and vote!”

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