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On the Ballot

The New Hampshire Primary is set for Tuesday Jan. 27, 2004. "Granite Staters are tough but fair with those who would be President.  Toward the end of the race, when the temperature gets colder and the campaigning gets hotter, it takes dedication to survive.  Here is democracy at its best, for it takes more than a big bankroll or name recognition to impress us." --Nackey Loeb
Concord Monitor-Prim.
Union Leader-Prim.

6/7/03....Campaigns Building Organizations in 
New Hampshire.
12/4/02....Close New Hampshire races will help set '04 stage
2/11/02....Sen. John Edwards Introduces Himself to NH Democratic Activists.

The Granite State at a Glance
General: State of New Hampshire  |  The New Hampshire Almanac  |  nh.com

Population (2000):   1,235,786 U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts
Population by County (2000):  Hillsborough 380,841; Rockingham 277,359; Merrimack 136,225;  Strafford 112,233;  Grafton 81,743;  Cheshire 73,825; Belknap 56,325;  Sullivan 40,458,  Carroll 43,666,  Coos 33,111.
Largest Cities (1999):    Manchester (106,180), Nashua (83,900), Concord (38,318), Derry (32,451). >
Registered Voters (2001)   Rep. 233,377 (33.45%), Dem. 167,085 (26.10%), Undeclared 239,817 (37.46%)--Total 640,279. >

Local Government:   10 counties, 13 municipalities, 223 towns and 22 unincorporated places.  Cities and Towns.
State Government:   Gov. Craig Benson (R) elected Nov. 2002.  Five-member elected Executive Council, along with the Governor, adminsters the executive branch.  Legislature NH General Court--24 Senators and 400 Representatives.
Federal Government:   Senators Judd Gregg (R), elected 1992, re-elected 1998; and John Sununu (R), elected 2002.
Congressmen Charlie Bass (R) and Jeb Bradley (R).

Political: New Hampshire Democratic Party  | New Hampshire Republican State Committee  | Libertarian Party of New Hampshire  |  New Hampshire Greens| politicsNH.com  |  Politics1.com  | New Hampshire Department of StateP2000 NH Primary Page

Media: Concord Monitor's Primary Monitor  | Union Leader  | Newspapers in New Hampshire  |  Newspaper Links (NAA)  |  NHPTV  |  WMUR  |  WNDS  |  NECN  |  NHPRRadio (Gebbie Press)

Economy: NH Employment Security



Visit Early and Often
New Hampshirites tend to get a little blasé about the presidential candidates who troop through their state. A cartoon by the Concord Monitor's Mike Marland captures some of this sentiment. The drawing shows an electronic clock and temperature indicator like one finds on the signs in front of some banks. However, in addition to the "Time" and "Temperature" settings, there is a third setting: "Presidential Candidate Visiting the State Today."

Presidential hopefuls visit New Hampshire early and often, sometimes starting within months of the last election. The pace quickens following the mid-term congressional elections. In the year before the primary, the odds are good that on any given day a presidential candidate will be in the state, or, if not, there will be news about a visit that occurred yesterday or will occur tomorrow.

New Hampshire's first in the nation presidential primary has assumed such importance not because of the number of delegates at stake (for example Puerto Rico sends more than twice as many delegates to the Democratic National Convention as does New Hampshire), but because it, along with Iowa, is the "starting block" in the presidential nominating process. A better than expected showing in New Hampshire can boost a candidacy; a poor showing can effectively end a candidacy.

Retail Politics
Because New Hampshire is a small state both geographically (it is the seventh smallest state with an area of 9,304 square miles) and population-wise (less than two million people) and because the candidates spend so much time here, voters have the opportunity to get to know the candidates person-to-person. In other states, carefully crafted 30-second television spots may be all a voter has to go on; here a candidate must be effective at one-on-one retail politics.

Retail politics means making the rounds at Lincoln Day or Jefferson-Jackson dinners, delivering speeches to Rotary Clubs and party groups, and speaking with New Hampshirites in cafes, in school auditoriums and in their homes. It means attending numerous candidate forums. It means walking down Main Street, throwing an axe at a county fair or riding a dog sled or tapping a maple tree. Visit by visit, in beautiful fall New England days and in mucky snow storms, the candidates woo voters from Coos to the sea.

They must also work to gain support of activists and elected officials who are critical to building an organization. There are many elected officials for candidates to choose from; the House of Representatives alone has 400 members, making it the largest of any state in the nation. As the year progresses, candidates open up state headquarters. The first television ads will likely appear in summer 2003. In the fall and winter of 2003 various candidate forums will be held and there will be a few debates. One or more of the candidates may not be able to generate enough support and end up pulling out of the race before the primary. In the closing weeks of the primary busloads of young supporters from around the country come in to help their favored candidates, and the media attention ratchets up. Finally, on primary day, January 27, 2004, with the eyes of the nation upon them, somewhere around 300,000  New Hampshirites will turn out at the polls (in 2000, with competitive primaries in both parties, 238,606 Republicans and 154,639 Democrats voted), and by their votes determine which candidates will go on, and which will not.

The Tradition
There have been many memorable moments in New Hampshire primaries over the years…Ronald Reagan declaring "I paid for that microphone"…Bill Clinton declaring himself "the comeback kid"… John McCain riding the "Straight Talk Express" and doing over 100 town meetings.  Since the first modern New Hampshire primary in 1952, strong traditions have developed.  There are rituals, from the filing of papers at the Secretary of State's office to the first primary votes being cast in Dixville Notch, and there are places the candidates must visit, such as the Capitol Diner in Concord and the WMUR-TV studios in Manchester.

An Economic Bonanza
Holding the first-in-the-nation primary confers enormous economic benefits on New Hampshire, and state officials zealously guard the first status. It is no exaggeration to say that the long courtship of New Hampshire voters provides a comparable and probably greater boost to the state than a major party nominating convention provides to a host city. That figure is more than $100 million. For New Hampshire the visits are spread out over a year-plus. The candidates, their aides, reporters, camera crews, representatives of a number of interest groups seeking to get their messages out, and various hangers-on all flock to the state and spend money on rental cars, hotel rooms, taxis, food, event costs and advertising campaigns.

Staying First
In sum, the New Hampshire primary has developed into a healthy industry.  In fact, New Hampshire's first status is set in state law: "The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on the Tuesday at least 7 days immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier…" (New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated Title 63, Chapter 653.9). 

Nonetheless, there are always concerns about the future and health of the New Hampshire primary.  New Hampshire's special position is not without critics (see for example the Nov. 2001 resolution (PDF) of the Michigan Democratic Party).  Other states have on occasion attempted to impinge on the Granite State's first status.  In-state observers keep a close watch on its pulse.  For example, during the 2000 primary, Concord Monitor editor Mike Pride voiced qualms about the big media presence. "They're getting here sooner and sooner, so if somebody, a candidate, shows up… there's forty cameras around." 

More Links

Candidate NH Sites
Clark, unofficial
Graphic Page

Interest Groups 
New Hampshire AFL-CIO, NH AFL-CIO links         more>
NEA New Hampshire   more>
New Hampshire for Health Care         more>
The AFSC-NH Presidential Primary Project     more>
AARP (2004 Presidential Primary Voter Education Campaign)   photo>
Carbon Coalition
Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (A project of MPP)
Every Child Matters Education Fund - NH
New Hampshire Mock Election
New Hampshire Sierra Club
New Hampshire Citizens Alliance
New Hampshire Stonewall Democrats
Gun Owners of New Hampshire

Primary Monitor (Concord Monitor)
Union Leader-Primary
New Hampshire Public Radio
NH Events
Dates for 2003 Fairs and Expositions in New Hampshire
A Different View: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie's Dec. 3, 2003 speech at St. Anselm.

First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary By Hugh Gregg
The Library & Archives of NH's Political Tradition
An Ode to the NH Primary, by Nackey Loeb
Have You Signed the NH Primary Pledge? (2000)
NH-Primary (a 1996 site)
Past Results (Department of State)

Hugh Gregg and Bill Gardner.  October 2003.  WHY NEW HAMPSHIRE?  Resources of New Hampshire, Inc.

Dante J. Scala.  December 2003.  STORMY WEATHER: The New Hampshire Primary and Presidential Politics.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Meryl Levin and Will Kanteres.  June 2004.  PRIMARILY NEW HAMPSHIRE.  Third Rail Press, Inc. 


Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.