PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — In this border city at the end of 2019, siblings Matthew and Cassandra Bickerstaff of York stood at the back of a crowd, straining to catch a sight of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang give a stump speech in a small bar.
The Democratic candidate was in Portsmouth as part of a New Year’s Eve tour in the Granite State. It was as close to Maine as he and most other 2020 contenders had been last year, aside from a September spurt of activity and quick trips from minor candidates across the border.
Of the 12 Democratic candidates who qualified for Maine’s primary ballot, only two frontrunners are showing sustained interest in the state ahead of the March 3 contest. The early-voting New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as bigger states including California and Texas running primaries the same day, will largely drown Maine out until the general election.
The easy access to presidential visits in southern Maine, however, makes it feel local enough for the Bickerstaffs.
“To be so close to the action, it’s like we forget we’re in a small town,” Matthew Bickerstaff said.