"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

Visits by Republican Prospects
Visits by Democratic Prospects
Interest Group Activity
Endorsements: Legislative; Newspapers

2005-06 Notes
2004 Page

Jan. 8, 2008-
NH Pres. Primary.

The Union Leader (see NH Primary '08, Granite Status)
Boston Globe's "The Primary Source" (James Pindell)
Concord Monitor: NH Primary
NHPR: Primary 2008
NHPTV's "NH Votes 2008"
Campaigns & Election's "NHPols.com"

New Hampshire Republican State Committee
New Hampshire Democratic Party
Biden Clinton Dodd Edwards Gravel Kucinich Obama Richardson DraftGoreNH
Vilsack Didn't Run
Cox Giuliani Huckabee Hunter McCain Paul Romney F.Thompson Tancredo Brownback T.Thompson Gilmore Pataki

State of New Hamsphire Revised Statutes, TITLE LXIII, Chapter 653>

653:9 Presidential Primary Election. – The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a Tuesday selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier, of each year when a president of the United States is to be elected or the year previous.

Gov. John Lynch in Nov 30, 2005 letter to DNC Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling:

"...New Hampshire will take whatever steps are necessary to preserve its state law and traditional role in the nominating process.

"New Hampshire has the first primary because it was the first state to take the presidential nominating process out of smoke-filled backrooms and put the decision directly into the hands of voters.  It is a tradition and a responsibility the people of this state take seriously."

The premise and the promise of New Hampshire's first in the nation primary is that it allows even little-known, underfunded candidates to have a chance at winning the White House.  By engaging in grassroots politics, visiting ordinary citizens in their living rooms and meeting them in diners, a candidate can gain favorable notice, attract support of activists, do well in the primary, and thereby gain momentum going into the rest of the nominating process.  Accordingly there is a lot of traffic by presidential prospects as they seek to connect with activists and potential supporters.  This activity starts several years in advance of the primary.  From after the 2004 election to the end of 2006, major Republican prospects made 59 visits totaling 76 days and major Democratic prospects made 61 visits totaling 94 days.  Potential candidates also started to line up supporters and build organizations through their leadership PACs.

Democratic tradition:  The General Court, New Hampshire's "citizen legislature," consists
of the 400-member House and 24-member Senate.  The House is the
largest state legislative
body in the United States.  Legislators receive a salary
of $200 per biennium. 

New Hampshire activists take their politics very seriously.  Over the decades, the New Hampshire primary has produced many memorable scenes, and each succeeding primary reinforces the proud tradition.  Inded the primary's first in the nation status is enshrined in state law.  The primary and all the comings and goings also provide a tremendous economic boost to the state.

Critics argue that New Hampshire is not representative and should not be granted a privileged position.  The Democratic National Committee, after a lengthy process that started following the 2004 campaign and ran through August 2006, decided to add two additional early contests to its 2008 presidential nominating calendar.  Democrats planned to start with the Iowa caucuses on January 14, followed by January caucuses in Nevada, then the New Hampshire primary on January 22, and finally the South Carolina primary, all before the February 5 opening of the window when all the other states can hold their contests.  New Hampshire political leaders mounted a spirited defense of the first-in-the-nation primary throughout the Democrats' deliberations, but were unable to forestall the changes.

The Democrats' plan, however, fell by the wayside.  New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner had the final say as to the date of the primary and he was bound and determined to protect the state's first in the nation status.  In a July 20, 2006 letter to members of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch wrote of Gardner, "You should assume that he will move up New Hampshire’s primary date, perhaps even ahead of Iowa, if he determines it is necessary to uphold New Hampshire law."  Gov. Lynch, in an August 19, 2006 press release, announced that he had "received written commitments from 10 potential Democratic presidential candidates that they will participate in the New Hampshire primary on whatever date the Secretary of State sets."  Gardner was most concerned about Michigan's January 15, 2008 primary, and he kept everyone guessing until Thanksgiving eve, November 21, 2007, when he announced January 8, 2008 as the date.

> Sec. of State Bill Gardner:  "...I don't set
the date until I feel that it's going to stand." 

Independents Form an Important Voting Bloc

In the 2000 New Hampshire Primary Sen. John McCain defeated then Gov. George W. Bush with significant support from independent voters.  Undeclared voters can vote in either party's primary.  The procedure is simple.  Upon entering the polling place, a voter declares for one of the parties and votes on that party's ballot; after voting he or she can return to the undeclared status.  Undeclared or independent voters form a significant voting group.  As of Jan. 8, 2008 the voting lists showed 271,220 Republicans, 258,776 Democrats and 355,498 Undeclared for a total of 885,494 (61,712 registered on primary day).

New Hampshire Visits by the Major Democratic and Republican Candidates
2007  ...corrected July 12, 2009
Jan. '07
Feb. '07
Mar. '07
Apr. '07
May '07
June '07
July '07
Aug. '07
Sept. '07
Oct. '07
Nov. '07
Dec. '07

9 (13)
15 (26)
 15 (25)
21 (36)
19 (31)
29 (43)
 20 (37)
 23 (43)
 30 (54)
 34 (54)
 36 (70)
6 (9)
6 (10)
8 (16)
10 (17)
7 (9)
15 (24)
 8 (15)
 9 (20)
16 (32)
17 (27)
 16 (30)
3 (4)
9 (16)
7 (9)
11 (19)
12 (22)
14 (19)
 12 (22)
 14 (23)
14 (22)
17 (27)
 20 (40)
Visits that extend from one month to the next are tallied as 1/2 a visit in each month so as not to double count (see the calendars).  2005-06
Does not include John Cox (R) and Mike Gravel (D).

(Sept. 24, 2007 grab)

(launched May 2, 2007; May 3 grab)

(Sept. 24, 2007 grab)

(launched May 10, 2007; May 10 grab)

(May 5, 2007 grab)

(launched April 19, 2007; April 23 grab)

(May 21 grab)


See also:
American Association for Public Opinion Research.  March 2009.  "An Evaluation of the Methodology of the 2008 Pre-Election Primary Polls." [PDF]

New Hampshire Political Library (Politics & Eggs)

Lining Up Squarely Behind New Hampshire

First question at the Rockingham County Democrats' First Annual Eleanor Roosevelt Covered Dish Dinner in Epping, NH on Sept. 30, 2005:

Gary Patton:  Now Senator Feingold, if you know anything about New Hampshire, you can predict what the first question is going to be.  [laughter].  If you decide to run for president, are you committed to the [audience joins in] FIRST IN THE NATION NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY?  [laughter, applause].

Sen. Feingold:  I tell you I think one of the most wonderful things in American politics is what you do here having the first primary.  We like to talk about Wisconsin being a laboratory of democracy.  When it comes to presidential politics this is the laboratory for democracy and I can't imagine a scenario where we'd want to change that.  Of course the first primary should be in New Hampshire.  [applause].

Gary Patton:  Okay, put away the tar and feathers, folks...

Sen. Chuck Hagel's opening comment to Politics & Eggs Breakfast in Bedford, NH on May 4, 2005:

Sen. Hagel:  It is true I took another difficult stand--tough position--straight off the top supporting the New Hampshire primary as first in the nation.  That's my trademark.  Handle the big issues right up front.  [laughter].  I did wrestle with it, but I finally came down on what I thought was right for America [laughter] and the world really.  [laughter].  I think maybe even the universe."

Gov. George Pataki at NH Republican Party Christmas Party in Concord, NH on Dec. 14, 2005:

Gov. Pataki:  We understand the importance of our American political system and the fact that the New Hampshire primary has to be number one and has to be undiminished in its importance.  [cheers, applause].  Let us fight to keep that, and let the Democrats say no.  [laughter].

Gov. Bill Richardson at Politics ? Eggs Breakfast in Bedford, NH on June , 2005:

Gov. Richardson:  ...it came up early on about New Hampshire being first or whatever in the primary system.  There's a debate on that issue.  I hope to talk to you a little bit about it a little later, but being from New Mexico I want you to know that I believe very strongly in the idea of a Western primary.  And I'm not going to compromise on this.  Here's my position.  You might not agree, but it seems to me only fair that the people of Keene have as much voice as the people of Manchester.  [laughter, applause].

But this is grassroots politics, this is what you're about, this is when  you require all these big shots to come in the living rooms and look 'em in the eye and tell 'em do you care about me despite the resume?  What are you going to do about helping this country and this state?  And this is why this tradition of the ability to look a voter in the eye and tell 'em where you stand, this is why New Hampshire is so important and this is why you should oppose any attempts to change that.  And there are going to be fights there--I mean the Michigan people and you've got some in the Midwest.  All we want in the West, we're going to support you and we've got some people in our Commission: New Hampshire number one.  But you know right after that you know the Western primary, maybe at midnight--  No, just kidding.  [laughter].  Maybe a few days later.  No, no, just a few days later; don't get excited.  Because I think it's important that you have that.

Gov. Mark Warner at NH Senate Democratic Caucus Lunch in Manchester, NH on Nov. 18, 2005:

Gov. Warner:  ... it is a great honor for me to be here in New Hampshire, the state that has always had and should always have the first primary in the nation.  [applause].  Because the one thing I think I figured out not only here but when I visited Iowa a couple of times on NGA business during the summer, is there is a special, and I see it here today, a special sense of stewardship and responsibility and I thank you for that stewardship, and I look forward to making sure that we continue this conversation.



Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action