Sanders backers going to rural places no campaign has gone before, to win New Hampshire big

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking rural to the extreme in preparation for Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, where Sanders, a senator from adjoining Vermont, is the clear favorite over Hillary Clinton. “We are knocking doors in places where people have never gotten their door knocked before—and the experience is so unexpected that people are calling the police because a stranger is showing up their door,” so the campaign has started calling police in such towns to they can reassure callers, Sanders’ state primary director, Julia Barnes, told Sasha Issenberg of Bloomberg News.

“Much of New Hampshire is considered difficult to canvass, given the sparse population in the northern half of the state and the mountainous terrain that mottles it throughout,” Issenberg reports. “A surfeit of Sanders volunteers is pushing into parts of the state past campaigns would have considered inefficient to walk—even recruiting so-called driving teams of up to four people to team up on rural roads and snowy driveways.”

It’s difficult to reach New Hampshire voters by phone, Issenberg writes. “Over the week of Jan. 25, Sanders volunteers completed 11,000 phone conversations out of 250,000 calls placed—and 15,000 face-to-face conversations out of 60,000 attempted doorstep visits. The problem is particularly acute for Sanders, whose young get-out-the-vote targets often lack landlines and have not provided the campaign other methods of reaching them. Within that group, Sanders is making a concerted effort to mobilize those who would register for the first time on Tuesday, in line with New Hampshire’s same-day registration rules, meaning that there is not yet any trace of them on voter rolls.”

Fresh off a narrow loss to Clinton at the Iowa caucuses, Sanders is looking to reach as much of the state as possible in an attempt to score a big victory. Polls have Sanders leading Clinton in New Hampshire by anywhere from seven to 23 points, according to RealClear Politics.

Reprinted with permission from The Rural Blog.  Article written by Tim Mandell. Al Cross,  former Courier-Journal political writer, is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and The Rural Blog.

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