Elections

New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Predicts Big Turnout and a Bernie Sanders Victory

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., November 24, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Chris Sununu on Tuesday’s presidential primaries and which Democrats could win the Granite State in November

In an interview with National Review on Tuesday afternoon, New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, said that “turnout looks very good” in today’s presidential primaries and predicted that Vermont senator Bernie Sanders will win the state’s Democratic race.

“I don’t make predictions, I just get it right,” Sununu told NR inside the DoubleTree Hilton in downtown Manchester. “Bernie’s gonna win, I think, to be sure. I think Bernie and Buttigieg as one and two. Klobuchar will do much better than everybody thinks. . . . She could get three. Warren’s not a disaster, but she’s stagnant. Biden’s already literally leaving the state as we speak right now. All of his hopes have to be pinned on South Carolina and a little in Nevada.”

The governor also predicted that the Democrats are well on their way to a brokered convention that will be a “big political mess this summer.”

Asked about voter turnout in New Hampshire, Sununu said that Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who predicted that 420,000 voters will show up today, “has always made pretty great estimates for the state. My sense is he’s going to come pretty darn close if not spot-on.”

Following the debacle in Iowa’s caucuses, which were marred by reports of inaccuracies and didn’t yield even partial results for a full 24 hours, Sununu said there is no reason to be concerned that New Hampshire could face similar problems, because the two states are “apples and oranges.”

“They have a party-run process. We are a state-run process,” he said. “They have 8, 9, 10 percent participation in a caucus. We have 50 to 60 percent participate in a one-person, one-vote, paper-ballot-backed-up primary. We get our results that night; they’re trying to do mathematical formulas to figure out their delegates.”

“We’ve been doing it for 100 years,” he added. “It is a very tried-and-true, backed-up process,” with paper ballots counted by machines that “are not connected to anything but the outlet, so there is no hacking.”

At President Trump’s rally in Manchester on Monday night, he encouraged Republicans to vote for the “weakest” Democratic candidate in the state’s open primaries. “You have crossovers in primaries, don’t you? I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats,” Trump told the crowd. “Does that make sense? My only problem is I’m trying to figure out who is their weakest candidate. I think they’re all weak. . . . If you want to vote for a weak candidate tomorrow, go ahead and pick one. . . . Pick the weakest one you think. I don’t know who it is.”

Asked if he’d advise Republicans against voting in the Democratic primary in an effort to nominate the weakest candidate, Sununu said on Tuesday: “There is no reason to play on that side. That’s not gonna happen. It never has. It won’t. We respect each other’s process.”

“Technically if you’re an undeclared but Republican-leaning individual, you can participate [in the Democratic primary], but [such voters are] excited to vote for Trump,” Sununu added. “My guess is that at the end of the day Donald Trump gets more votes than anybody, frankly, and he’s not even running in a contested race.”

Sununu is one of the most popular governors in the country, and of the three Republican governors in New England he is the only one who supports Trump’s reelection. His advice to Trump on how to win in 2020? “The economy is a big win [to emphasize]: He deserves a lot of credit for” what “he did with his tax cuts, with the USMCA agreement, with regulatory reform.”

Asked who the toughest Democrat to beat in New Hampshire in November would be, Sununu said, “I think if Biden were to get the nomination down the road, he would potentially be tough here because we are a more moderate state. We are a purple state. He plays to a more moderate crowd.”

“Klobuchar, if she were to get the nomination, would be tougher to beat here for sure,” he added. “Not just because she’s a female, but she’s also a little more moderate. She’s very genuine, and she has political courage to go against the grain when it’s in the best interest of the constituents. I don’t agree with all of those policies, but there’s something genuine and authentic that would play well here.”

Could Sanders win here in the November, though? “Absolutely not,” he said. “A socialist winning in the Live Free or Die State? No, no chance.”

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