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Even outside the ballot, votes in New Hampshire primary matter for Biden

Even outside the ballot, votes in New Hampshire primary matter for Biden

Democrats are trying to temper expectations about President Joe Biden's performance in the New Hampshire Democratic primary next week, and allies of the president are struggling to rally written support for him, whose name will not be on the ballot.

The January 23 primaries will be the first electoral test of Biden's political strength in the current campaign, and the unprecedented situation will be closely watched as polls indicate he is tied in the race for the White House with his likely opponent, the Republican and former president Donald Trump.

A poor result against underdogs Dean Phillips, a Minnesota congressman, and self-help book author Marianne Williamson could fuel concerns about the incumbent's weakness ahead of the presidential election.

Biden did not register for the race in New Hampshire after the state refused to accede to his demand to cede its state's top spot on the primary calendar to South Carolina, a more diverse region.

But his supporters in New Hampshire can still vote for him, as many US states allow voters to write the name of a candidate who is not officially running on the ballot on the ballot. That candidate will win if he receives more votes than those registered.

Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Research Center, said Biden is expected to get “a pretty significant win,” but cautioned that he doesn’t know what that means: “What’s a win big enough to make a difference? Right now we see Biden ahead, with around 70% of the votes. That's enough? Does it mean that the Democratic Party supports him, or does it show division in the party?”

Jim Demers, one of Biden's campaign organizers, said he has seen polls in which the president goes from just under 50% of voting intentions to 60%.

The National Committee of the Democratic Party decided that the election in New Hampshire will not officially count, and the winner will not take the 23 delegates in March, when the party will choose its candidate.

Big allies of Biden — including California congresswoman Ro Khanna; Illinois Governor JB Pritzker; and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu — have helped fire up voters for the president, and organizers say they have a tight budget to teach voters how to write a candidate.

A CNN poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Research Center in mid-November showed that 65% of likely primary voters will write Biden's name. Phillips would have 10% support, compared to 9% for Williamson.

In 2020, Biden finished the state's primary in a disappointing fifth place, in an election with more than 300,000 votes registered. Local authorities expect fewer than 100,000 this year.

Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson, at the time president, snubbed the New Hampshire primaries in 1968 due to overconfidence, thus seeing Senator Eugene McCarthy's campaign gain strength, with his platform against the Vietnam War. The president's voters mounted a write-in vote campaign that narrowly won in the primaries, but a weakened Jonhson left the electoral race weeks later.

Source: CNN Brasil