Before New Hampshire residents even hit the polls, the first-in-the-nation primary already had a winner: Airbnb hosts.
Airbnb estimates that in the two weeks leading up to the primary, 17,000 guests paid $2.7 million to stay in homes across the state, according to Christopher Nulty, the company’s head of public affairs for the Americas. Airbnb is an online platform the connects people to short-term rental properties or homes.
Other economic winners across the state are hotels, restaurants, shops and car rental businesses, who benefit from the attention the Granite State receives in the weeks leading up to the primary every four years.
Most people are coming to the Granite State from Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, New York City and Providence, Rhode Island, according to Airbnb. Many guests are campaign staff, volunteers and media. While some guests are likely in the area to ski or take in the winter scenes, the numbers are 70 percent higher than this time last year, the company said.
“We have a pretty good sense of that influx and what is bringing it over the edge is people coming into town for something special,” Nulty said.
The economic impact of the primary has been as high as $300 million, according to a study looking at the 2000 election. The activity is likely less this year because only one party is actively, while Republican President Donald Trump is seeking reelection.
One NASCAR race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway has a similar impact, according to Dover economist Brian Gottlob, who now works as the director of economic and labor market information bureau. He co-authored the report.
“The opportunity to highlight to the world that New Hampshire is not just a state with natural beauty but is also a state with a diverse, technology-intensive economy, with well-educated citizens and engaged, sophisticated voters, is the real economic benefit,” he wrote in an email to the Union Leader.
Media outlets and others book rooms at the DoubleTree Hotel on Elm Street in Manchester years in advance, said Kim Roy, general manager. The hotel hosts operations for NBC, Bloomberg, CBS, ABC, C-SPAN, WGBH and others.
The room demand comes from media outlets, campaigns and people “who want to see the action” of the primary, said Roy, who has been with the hotel for 36 years. This is her 10th primary.
“It was a little quieter than in years past, I think because of all the commotion in Iowa as well as the impeachment, they had their reporters all over,” Roy said.
In Manchester, the staple campaign stops include the Red Arrow restaurant and Puritan Backroom. Outside the Queen City, a lot of the activity is in Nashua, North Conway and Portsmouth.
“Where the candidates are is where we really see the activity,” said Mike Somers, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association. “This is where retail politics really matters. It is meeting people where they are, and let’s face it, oftentimes that happens in restaurants.”