MANCHESTER, N.H.—Inside a local brewery here, dozens of Elizabeth Warren supporters refused to believe this all might be over soon. Sipping craft beer (or seltzer water), these Warren diehards gathered, in some cases, to simply be near one another. Ten miles away, in Goffstown, seven Democratic candidates would soon debate at St. Anselm College. The low hum of conversation broke for remarks by Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, one of Warren’s regional surrogates. “We have a couple days left,” he told the room. “We can win this.”
At a table near the back of the bar, I met Christine Reyes, an assistant professor at Colby-Sawyer College, in nearby New London. She’d been knocking on doors for Warren since August, and conceded that she was just happy to have a night out. (Her husband was home watching their 1-year-old.) “A lot of my co-workers don’t like to really talk about who they’re supporting,” Reyes told me. She said that she only recently began to notice Warren signs in her neighborhood—or any campaign signs, for that matter. “But, I feel good. We’re top four,” she said. “We’ll figure it out.”
That night, Friday, coming off a third-place finish in the muddled Iowa caucus, Warren was hardly the star of the debate. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received the front-runner treatment (in the form of attacks) and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota boasted the most post-debate momentum after a strong performance, raising $2.5 million in 24 hours. But Warren—who seems most likely to appeal to white college-educated voters, which New Hampshire has more than its fair share of—needs a strong finish in this first primary if she hopes to win the nomination. If her strategy is going to work anywhere, it’s going to work here. But what if it doesn’t?