Conservative New Hampshire paper endorses Biden — but Trump is still popular with the state’s rural voters

Conservative New Hampshire paper endorses Biden — but Trump is still popular with the state’s rural voters
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a community event at Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson, Nevada. // Gage Skidmore

Although New Hampshire hasn't gone Republican in a presidential race since George W. Bush in 2000, President Donald Trump's campaign has been treating it like a swing state. Polls have shown former Vice President Joe Biden with a strong lead in the New England state, and a conservative New Hampshire newspaper has endorsed Biden over Trump. However, HuffPost's Matt Fuller warns that rural voters have been trending more Republican in New Hampshire.

In an editorial published on October 25, the New Hampshire Union Leader's conservative editorial board "wholeheartedly" endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Sununu while explaining why it favors Biden over Trump.

"President Trump is not always 100% wrong, but he is 100% wrong for America," the editorial declares. "Trump has many admirable accomplishments from his first term in office. We can find much common ground with Trump supporters, including judicial appointments, tax policy, support for gun rights, even inroads to Middle East peace. Trump has been able to accomplish this despite many in the media and Congress working to stop him at every opportunity."

But the Union Leader's editorial board goes on to say that the United States' national debt has "exploded by more than 7 trillion dollars" under Trump and that the U.S. has suffered "record infections and deaths" because of COVID-19.

"Building this country up sits squarely within the skill set of Joseph Biden," the Union Leader declares. "We have found Mr. Biden to be a caring, compassionate and professional public servant. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to be a president for all of America, and we take him at his word. Joe Biden may not be the president we want, but in 2020, he is the president we desperately need. He will be a president to bring people together and right the ship of state."

However, the Union Leader also notes that some of its "policy disagreements" with Biden are "significant" and that "despite our endorsement of his candidacy, we expect to spend a significant portion of the next four years disagreeing with the Biden Administration on our editorial pages."

Most of the polls released during the second half of October indicate that New Hampshire residents are quite willing to split their tickets in 2020. Democrat Biden and Republican Sununu, in those polls, have double-digit leads over their opponents. But Fuller, in a HuffPost article published on October 27, stresses that Trump has some very enthusiastic supporters in rural areas of the state.

"For someone who lived in New Hampshire for the first 22 years of his life ― me ― and still visits his family who live in the state, it's a bit surprising to see houses that never put up political signs during the George W. Bush or Barack Obama years now proudly displaying Donald Trump flags and homemade billboards," Fuller explains. "In one sense, it shouldn't be surprising. New Hampshire was the first state in 2016 where Trump won a primary, beating out the second-place finisher, John Kasich, by 20 percentage points. And Trump only barely lost the state in the general election, with Democrat Hillary Clinton edging him out by less than 3000 votes."

Fuller goes on to say that even though Trump has been "lagging badly" in recent New Hampshire polls, Trump "feels good" about the state.

"Even if Democratic rival Joe Biden and his team expect to cruise to victory, something is happening in New Hampshire," Fuller observes. "Like almost every state, there is a political realignment happening here, with rural voters trending more Republican and suburban voters more Democratic…. The suburban/rural divide is alive and well, just like it was in 2016 and 2018."

Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, told HuffPost, "What we saw in 2016 was a microcosm for what we're seeing nationally. Larger numbers of Whites without college degrees shifted to Trump."

However, Scala also told HuffPost that "small suburban areas that are kind of outside smaller cities like Manchester tend to act like Rural America, politically speaking."

A GOP operative in New Hampshire, presumably interviewed on condition of anonymity, told HuffPost, "Almost every one of my friends is voting for Trump, and these are not insane people. These are people who know that Trump is a flaming fucking asshole. But they look at the alternative, and they don't like it."

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