New Hampshire voters say diversity isn't their top issue in choosing a candidate

Eliza Relman/INSIDERCarly Colby, a 23-year-old registered independent from Concord, NH.
  • Many New Hampshire voters aren’t convinced they need a woman or a person of colour on the 2020 presidential ticket.
  • A number of attendees at New Hampshire campaign events for former Vice President Joe Biden told INSIDER that a candidate’s qualifications matter more than their racial or gender identity.
  • Biden’s competing in a diverse Democratic field that includes the first millennial presidential candidate, a record number of women candidates, and several candidates of colour.
  • “My biggest concern is not so much who’s saying it, but what’s being said,” Ryan Buchanan, a 33-year-old Democratic State House representative from Concord, told INSIDER.
  • These sentiments align with recent national polling, which found that likely Democratic voters aren’t particularly concerned with the race or gender of their 2020 candidates.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

CONCORD, NH – Former Vice President Joe Biden‘s 2020 presidential bid provoked a few rounds of controversy even before he announced his run for president in April.

In March, reports emerged that the Delaware Democrat might choose his vice presidential running mate long before anyone clinches the nomination. And some of Biden’s advisers told reporters that he might pick Stacey Abrams, the former candidate for governor of Georgia and a progressive black woman.

As a 76-year-old white man, Biden may well be looking for a progressive woman of colour to diversify his ticket should he win the nomination. And Biden’s competing in a diverse Democratic field that includes the first millennial presidential candidate, a record number of women candidates, and several candidates of colour.

But many voters among the predominantly older, white crowds at Biden’s campaign events in New Hampshire this week told INSIDER they aren’t prioritising diversity on the 2020 ticket.

“I think qualification is the most important thing. If they’re equal, go for the diversity if you can,” said Katherine Dargis, a 71-year-old retiree from Bethlehem, NH who wrote in a Republican for president in 2016. Dargis added that she wouldn’t be opposed to have an all white and male ticket.


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Ryan Buchanan, a 33-year-old Democratic State House representative from Concord, said he’s more concerned with policy than with diversity on the ticket.

“My biggest concern is not so much who’s saying it, but what’s being said,” he said, adding that he “highly doubts” the 2020 Democratic ticket will include two white men. “I think it would be wise to go with diversity on the ticket.”

New Hampshire Biden voterEliza Relman/INSIDERJack Polidoro, a retired research biologist and registered independent.

Elizabeth Lamy-Harris, a 58-year-old equine assisted therapist from Henniker, NH, agrees with Buchanan.

“What matters to me is their viewpoint about diversity,” said Lamy-Harris, who voted for Sanders in 2016. “There are people that would be considered diverse, let’s say, that have conservative viewpoints that really puzzle me. So who they are as a person and what they represent is much more important to me.”

Kate Richards, a Concord, NH native and rising sophomore at Bates College, similarly said she wouldn’t let a candidate’s identity take precedence over their values.

“I want someone who represents my values and I’d love to have a woman president, but if a male candidate can still represent what I want for this country then that’s not going to stop me from voting for him,” she said.


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Richards’ friend Sophie Johnson, also a rising college sophomore, said she’s disheartened that politics remains dominated by “so many old white men,” but said she wouldn’t prioritise diversity on the ticket above all else.

“Requirement is a tough word,” she said.

These sentiments align with recent national polling, which found that likely Democratic voters aren’t particularly concerned with the race or gender of their 2020 candidates. While 87% of voters said the race of the 2020 nominee doesn’t matter, 77% said the same of gender, according to an April Monmouth University poll.

But some feel differently.

Jack Polidoro, a retired research biologist and registered independent who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, said he wants gender diversity on the ticket.

“I want a woman in the White House, I don’t care if it’s as president or vice president,” he said.

Some male Democratic candidates, including Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have said they’d ensure their tickets are diverse.

Sandy Bergquist, a retired teacher from Lancaster, NH, said she “would hope” that Biden would “reach for a woman” running mate.

But she added that identity isn’t the most important factor for her.

“It’s how effective you are and how sincere you are,” she said.

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