CONCORD, N.H. — In the world of political campaigns, setting the clock back Sunday for daylight saving time doesn't mean an extra hour sleep: It means an extra hour of knocking on doors and making calls ahead of Tuesday's elections.
When it comes to getting out the vote, Republicans and Democrats alike are working day and night, even if it means combining Halloween celebrations with phone banking. The state Republican Party hosted a Halloween and call party on Wednesday night, while Cheshire County Republicans held a "fall festivities and phones" event Thursday, inviting participants to wear costumes, decorate cupcakes and call voters.
Both parties plan large rallies Sunday: Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Nashua with top-of-the-ticket Democratic candidates in the morning, while Republicans gather in Manchester that night. Those events cap a busy week that saw candidates zipping across the state to shore up support: U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster wrapped up her "30 diners in 30 days" tour, prompting her Republican challenger, Marilinda Garcia, to up the ante with a swing through four restaurants in two hours.
Candidates from both parties fired up their volunteers Friday, emphasizing the need for non-stop campaigning through Tuesday.
"(Democrats) don't have a message, and we do. We need you over the next four days to deliver that message to New Hampshire, and we will deliver Scott Brown to Washington," Republican state Senate President Chuck Morse told an energized crowd of about 40 people who gathered in Manchester for a get-out-the vote bus tour. Morse was joined by 1st District Republican Frank Guinta and U.S. Senate hopeful Brown, who upon hearing the rousing message, jumped up and did several pushups.
Democrats, meanwhile, rallied for Gov. Maggie Hassan in Concord, cheering loudly at calls to spend the next four days getting out the vote. The volunteer coordinators holding clipboards in the back of the room received a shoutout from Hassan as being the "most important people in this room."
Progressive U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts held rallies with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen last weekend in Concord, Keene and Durham, all strongly Democratic areas. Republicans hold a slight edge over Democrats in voter registration in New Hampshire, but more than 40 percent are independent or undeclared, making them an elusive but coveted target demographic.
The final days promise to be busy. The GOP bus tour will hit all 10 counties, with candidates joining for some stops. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will join Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein on Monday in Nashua, his fifth trip to the state since June.
Several campaigns were cagey, however, when asked about their get-out-the-vote efforts, declining to give details in fear of giving away their strategies. And almost none of the campaigns made their complete schedules public.
What's clear, however, is that Democrats face a bigger challenge in motivating voters given President Barack Obama's unpopularity and the fact that turnout during midterm elections is usually far lower than during a presidential election year. But Democrats say they got a head start because their top candidates didn't face primary challengers.
"The Democratic Party was able to put staff on the ground and start organizing months before the GOP was capable of doing so because of their competitive primaries. That gives us an advantage and level of organization they don't have the time or the resources to catch up to," Democratic Party spokeswoman Julie McClain said.
Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn countered that by Tuesday, Republican volunteers will have made 1 million phone calls and knocked on half a million doors. Carl DePrime of Bedford said he's spent four to five hours a day for the past month helping Brown's campaign: making signs, stuffing envelopes and even driving to Boston to pick up a teleprompter for the campaign.