By Hayley Wheeler and Camila Beiner
BU News Service
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Beech Street School was filled with minority voters on Tuesday afternoon, at the first-in-the-nation primary in a predominantly Caucasian state.
While some of the voters interviewed believed Sen. Bernie Sanders understood them the most, others had more trust in former Vice President Joe Biden, a candidate who typically polls well with minority voters.
Eva Castillo, 63, a volunteer at the polling station at Beech Street School, said more than 1,100 people voted, including many first-time voters and minority voters. She said this was a good turnout for New Hampshire Ward 4. Castillo said she voted for Sanders because of his comprehensive immigration plan.
Najla Khaliqi, a 35-year-old immigrant from Afghanistan, also voted for Sanders because she believes he is a candidate who keeps his promises.
“He is good for immigrants,” said Khaliqi. “We are not originally from here, but we live here, so the candidate needs to do things for us, too.”
Khaliqi has been canvassing across Manchester and Nashua and has seen a lot of excitement for Sanders who won New Hampshire despite Pete Buttigieg’s surge in Iowa last week.
In addition to immigration, Sanders supporters connect with his social values.
Mozafer Dowad, a 29-year-old Uber driver in the Manchester area, said he voted for Sanders because he has the same beliefs that he does.
“It’s democracy, you’re supposed to vote for who you like, not who you think will win,” Dowad said. “People get caught up in winning or losing, but it’s about standing up for what you believe in.”
This sentiment was not shared by Biden voters as many of his supporters trust in his potential to beat President Trump.
Sache Velez, 20, whose family moved here from Puerto Rico, said she voted for Biden because she wants to put an end to Trump’s immigration policies.
“Family separation at borders is messed up,” said Velez. “I think someone who will actually care enough about that is important.”
Other voters appreciate Biden’s past White House experience and believe he is the most prepared to take on Trump.
68-year-old Fatima Polo Laperle from the Dominican Republic said she wants a candidate to go back to doing things the “right” way and provide for the people instead of the rich.
“He is the candidate to me that has not been enriched from being a politician,” said Laperle. “He is the poorest politician out there and that says a lot to me.” However, Biden is actually worth at least $9 million, according to Forbes.
Laperle also recognized that Biden may fare better in other states. Laperle said it’s important for Biden to “step it up” as the race gets more serious and voters demand more.
“He did say he was not going to do well in Iowa or New Hampshire,” she said. “As he goes to other states I think he will pick up more speed.”
As Biden left New Hampshire early Tuesday to head for South Carolina, his focus appeared to be shifting to more diverse states. After coming in fifth with 8.4% of the vote in New Hampshire, his campaign is looking toward success in Nevada and South Carolina.
According to the Pew Research Center, non-white voters will account for a third of eligible voters in the 2020 electorate – their largest share ever.