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Young Democrats: Don’t erase young voters, keep our NH primary first

In case you missed it, President of New Hampshire Young Democrats Manny Espitia, Chair of National High School Democrats Samay Sahu, and President of New Hampshire College Democrats Gabriela Rodriguez penned an op-ed in the Union Leader highlighting the importance of the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. They discuss how our unique primary where retail politics reign supreme amplify the voices of young voters — a key voting bloc of the Democratic party.

Read the full op-ed here.

by Manny Espitia, Samay Sahu & Gabriela Rodriguez

IF DEMOCRATS learn any lesson from the 2022 midterm elections, it should be that young voters are the key to the success of our party. All over the country, but especially here in New Hampshire, young voters tipped the scales and sent Democratic candidates up and down the ballot over the finish line and on to victory.

Without students and other young voters in New Hampshire turning out in droves to re-elect Sen. Maggie Hassan last year, she would not be back in Washington and Democrats would not have held on to a U.S. Senate majority. Without young voters sending Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Congressman Chris Pappas back to Washington, Democrats in Congress would be in a significantly deeper minority. In 2020, young voters were vital in securing the Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden that sent him to the White House. The young voters of New Hampshire are key to the Democratic Party’s wins on the national level.

The New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary creates a new generation of engaged, educated voters that are absolutely vital to our party’s success nationwide. Changing our first-in-the-nation primary threatens the key group that brings Democrats success in our crucial battleground state.

New Hampshire has a culture of retail politics that sets us apart from any other state. To be successful in New Hampshire, candidates have to meet voters face-to-face and answer our tough questions. It doesn’t matter how much name recognition you have or the amount of money in your war chest — if you want to win New Hampshire, you have to meet Granite Staters where we’re at.

There are almost 30 colleges and universities in New Hampshire, and to win here, candidates have to show up and talk to students. They have to meet with young voters, answer their questions, and hear what we have to say about the issues we really care about.

That kind of direct engagement with candidates is what activates our generation of young voters, activists, and leaders. There is no other state or primary where students and other young voters can get so intimately involved and hold so much power in the process.

This is why New Hampshire has such active groups of young Democrats, college Democrats, and high school Democrats. It’s why we have more young elected officials than any other state legislature. It’s why our young voters turn out in unprecedented numbers. It’s a major reason why Democrats were so successful here in 2016 and 2020.

Young people have been excluded from this narrative far too often. We are a crucial part of the Democratic Party’s base, and we should not be erased or forgotten. We believe wholeheartedly that our primary calendar should lift up diverse voices and amplify Black voters, but we know that doing this and keeping this very important piece of the nominating process are not mutually exclusive.

Young voters are an integral part of the Democratic Party and attempting to take away New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary threatens to erase the voices of young voters who deliver Democratic wins over and over again.


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