Massive media attention is focused on New Hampshire every four years because it hosts the first primary election of every presidential race. The laws of the Granite State say that the presidential primary shall be on the second Tuesday in March (the date when town meetings and non-partisan municipal elections are traditionally held). However, the Secretary of State can change the primary date so that the New Hampshire primary will take place at least seven days before any “similar election” in any other state.
Undeclared New Hampshire voters—those not registered with any party—can vote in either party’s primary, but those registered as Republican or Democratic on voting day cannot cast ballots in the primary of the other party. Each town in New Hampshire sets its own time for when the polls open. Three tiny towns — Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location and Millsfield (with a total population of about 80 people) — choose to cast their votes just after midnight on Tuesday morning. Most polls in the state are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Polls in Manchester, the state’s largest city with about 110,000 people, are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. It is easy and cheap to get on the New Hampshire ballot, so often there are 40 or more candidates on the primary ballot.
New Hampshire is 92% white and thus is not representative of the country and especially of the Democratic voter pool. Campaigning is done in person and on a small scale. Living room meetings and small town hall discussions are the norm.
The winner of the New Hampshire primary gets a lot of attention but often does not go on to win the party’s nomination, as happened to Estes Kefauver in 1952 and 1956, Paul Tsongas in 1992, Hillary Clinton in 2008, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. No Democrat who has won the New Hampshire primary has won the presidency since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Relatively few delegates are up for grabs in New Hampshire, so the real political game is to get media attention and to exceed expectations in New Hampshire and immediately launch a national campaign to win three weeks later on “Super Tuesday.”
Miscellany Blue is a progressive political blog in New Hampshire published by William Tucker. https://miscellanyblue.com/
Raymond Buckley has been the Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party since 2007. Maitri Chittidi is the 22 year old Secretary of the party.