New Hampshire Primary Could Be Michael Bennet’s Last Stand: Will His Gamble Pay Off?

Caitlyn Kim / CPR News
Michael Bennet talks with Callie and Scott Milne. The Manchester couple voted for Bennet in the presidential primary.

Colorado Senator and presidential hopeful Michael Bennet has banked on having a good showing in the New Hampshire presidential primary to create some momentum to keep his presidential campaign going. And today's the day.

“I feel great!” Bennet said as polls opened in New Hampshire.

He’s also banking on the granite state’s history of lifting underdog candidates to give him a strong finish, but it's an uphill climb.

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are favored to come out on top in today's primary, with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden trailing close behind.

Bennet is hoping for a finish in the top 4. And as he likes to remind voters and reporters, he has run from behind before.

“We’re going to run through the tape here tonight and see what happens in New Hampshire. I hope we surprise ourselves and we surprise a bunch of other people,” Bennet said. “You never know, that’s the great thing about politics. You never know.”

Standing outside a polling center in Manchester, N.H., was Mary Pressman from Portsmouth. He knows the polls have not been good for Bennet, but she cast her ballot for him anyway. She used to live in Kansas City and said that Bennet has plans that will appeal and work for people in the middle of the county.

“Michael has a better handle on that than many other candidates,” Pressman said.

But other voters left polls saying they voted for other candidates: ones with better standings in the national polls or those who impressed in the last debate or who have more media coverage.

That frustrates Callie Milne. She and her husband threw a house party for Bennet last summer and have stuck with him. She knows some of her friends and neighbors think that if they vote for a candidate that doesn’t already have traction and the political spotlight, it would be like throwing a vote away.

“That is sad to me,” Milne said. “ Because the primary is about voting your candidate. Believe in your candidate and go for it. I believe in my person and I’m going for it!”

Polls close in New Hampshire at 7 p.m. EST.