Blog: Politics & Policy

Data, news, and analysis of politics and public policy in New Hampshire.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Conventional wisdom holds that Bernie Sanders' and Donald Trump's big wins in New Hampshire’s presidential primary earlier this month were driven by hordes of irregular and first-time voters flocking to the polls.

But a review of preliminary voting data doesn’t exactly back up that premise.

With the 2016 presidential campaign now entrenched in Nevada and South Carolina, local television stations are closing the books on the New Hampshire Primary.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A little over a week ago, Linda Philibert was just another regular at Blake’s Restaurant on Manchester’s West Side.

But there was little that was regular about her recent stop there last Monday morning.

RICCARDO S. SAVI, GETTY IMAGES

Gov. Maggie Hassan ordered New Hampshire flags to half staff to honor Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died this weekend at age 79.

“Justice Scalia served our country with honor and our entire nation mourns his sudden loss,” Hassan wrote in a statement. “Tom and I send our deepest condolences to Maureen, his entire family, and his many friends, loved ones and colleagues.”

PAUL YOUNG/LINDSEY GRAHAM CAMPAIGN

The candidates have flown out, the national cameras have shifted focus, and soon the yard signs will begin to disappear.

But for the local media, who'll stay put as the campaigns continue onward – it all feels so sudden.

If you want to know whether Hillary Clinton will stay close to Bernie Sanders Tuesday, or are looking for an early hint of how the Republican race will end up, here's a tip: Keep an eye on Rochester.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte is calling for ABC News to include Carly Fiorina in the last GOP Presidential debate before the New Hampshire Primary. Fiorina is the only remaining GOP candidate to be excluded from the debate, which takes place Saturday.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

John Kasich needs New Hampshire’s undeclared voters to surge to the Republican primary. Bernie Sanders would like to see those same voters pick the Democratic race.

Recent history shows either scenario is plausible.

But ongoing upheaval in the ranks of New Hampshire’s undeclared (or “independent”) voters makes it hard to know what (if any) direction they're moving over the long term. 

Sara Plourde for NHPR

Discussions over the future of New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion kick off in earnest this week, setting the stage for one of the biggest policy debates before state lawmakers this year.

The question of whether to reauthorize the expansion, known officially as the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, has loomed over the State House for much of the last year.

New Hampshire political history resounds with the names of candidates who used the state's First in the Nation Presidential Primary to vault to national political fame. 

Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton. John McCain.

But what did those primary elections look like in the moment, town by town across New Hampshire? Where did Bill Clinton stake out his biggest wins, to ensure a close second-place finish in the 1992 primary (and resurrect his presidential campaign in the process)? Just how big was Patrick Buchanan's legendary win in the 1996 GOP Primary? What towns have Republican candidates most consistently relied on to win?

NHPR Staff

There is a certain mystique to the New Hampshire presidential primary: flinty New Englanders trudging to the polls through snow and cold to be the first voters in the nation to cast their ballots. That earnest, Norman Rockwell image applies to how candidates are expected to campaign in the Granite State: shaking hands at coffee shops; chatting with locals at small-town diners; courting activists one by one.

Tracy Lee Carroll / NHPR

It’s one of the most conventional nuggets of political wisdom: To win an election, first secure your base, then expand from there.

But recent New Hampshire political history shows that candidates can win their party’s core towns, and still lose the election. It happened, in both parties’ presidential primaries, in 2008. 

Credit Allegra Boverman / NHPR

At a recent campaign event with nearly 1,000 people in Portsmouth, Hillary Clinton called on four children to ask questions – one third of the questions she took that hour. Why?

Perhaps Clinton is after softball questions, as Time proposes.  Perhaps the campaign sees interactions with children as a way to convey the candidate as warm and relatable. Or maybe Hillary Clinton just has a soft-spot for kiddos. 

Courtesy image

Republican candidate for Congress, Daniel Innis, is asking supporters to donate to a Manchester drug treatment center instead of his campaign.

Cheryl Senter, NHPR

Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, might’ve kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest when he penned a front-page editorial calling Republican frontrunner Donald Trump “a crude blowhard with no clear political philosophy.”

But the newspaperman was simply continuing his outlet’s long-running tradition of cutting presidential candidates down to size. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a political animal as mystifying, misunderstood and over-analyzed as the so-called “independent” voter of New Hampshire.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

During a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Bethlehem Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio covered plenty of policy turf -- including the New England Patriots.

"Tom Brady should retire, because the Miami Dolphins deserve a chance to win the AFC,” Rubio declared.

Laughter mixed with the tiniest rumble of boos...

“When I’m president, Tom Brady is going to be secretary of the Air Force," Rubio continued. "He knows a lot about throwing stuff and flying…and the Miami Dolphins will have a chance to win the division."

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The presidential primary trail is taking a rare detour through New Hampshire’s North Country this week.

GIF created using footage from CNN

 It's been a recurring theme throughout this year's presidential primary race: Early states (like New Hampshire) are losing their clout as candidates run what are essentially nationwide campaign.

The field is set for tomorrow’s GOP presidential debate, with eight candidates set to take the stage for the evening’s main event. The lineup hasn't changed much from the last debate, the main difference being the addition of Chris Christie thanks to his improving poll numbers in New Hampshire.

But the stability onstage belies a shift in the structure of the race, particularly in New Hampshire. After a summer when political neophytes pulled the lion’s share of support, the last few weeks of New Hampshire polling have seen a resurgence by “insider” candidates.

NHPR File Photo

Whether measured in polls, crowds or money raised, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton appear in a tight race as New Hampshire's Primary Day approaches.

Clinton, of course, is no stranger to hard-fought Granite State contests. She edged out Barack Obama in New Hampshire’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary, winning 39 percent of the vote to Obama’s 37 percent.   

But the bottom-line vote tallies can obscure a simple fact: The New Hampshire primary is not just a statewide contest. 

Sharon Morrow

The manager for New Hampshire’s prescription drug monitoring program told lawmakers Tuesday that more funding would help the system to better handle an expected increase in use that could come with efforts to more closely monitor opioid prescribing.

As part of a special legislative session on heroin and opioid misuse, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley have each proposed giving the program $100,000 in state money to help with technology upgrades that would encourage more widespread use.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

E-mail solicitations from political campaigns tend to follow a pretty well-worn formula:

It may be hard for those of us in New Hampshire to believe -- but there's a whole other round of voting to come after our own presidential primary in February. And the outcome of that race will likely be shaped by factors impossible to predict at this point.

To help, the website FiveThirtyEight.com just published a guide to the seven major issues they believe will shape the 2016 White House race. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

On the last day for candidates to file for the New Hampshire presidential primary ballot, Vermin Supreme, known for campaigning with a massive boot on his head, made his third run for President official. This year, Supreme who is from Rockport, Massachusetts, is running as a Democrat. But his platform remains a bit out of the mainstream.

www.brookscullison.com

Almost all the big names have walked through the halls of the New Hampshire Statehouse, strolled into the Secretary of State's Office, and plunked down the $1,000 needed to file for the New Hampshire presidential primary.

  Only Republican Ben Carson is left to file, and he's set to take care of that on Friday, the last day to do so.

Allegra Boverman, NHPR

George Pataki’s polling average in New Hampshire is hovering under one percent, and he was shut out of the most recent "undercard" debate — but he’s not planning to bow out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination anytime soon.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

I don’t expect this will get me invited to many Manchester dinner parties or Sioux City porkfests. But here goes:

It’s time for Democrats to ditch Iowa and New Hampshire’s one-two punch at the front of the party’s presidential nominating calendar.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Last week we took a closer look at the most vigorous defender of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary: Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

Over the past four decades, Gardner has met nearly every candidate to run for president. That access has provided him a fair share of stories -- so many stories, in fact, that we couldn't find room for even a fraction of them all.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Donald Trump has been at the front of the Republican presidential pack in New Hampshire since late July — at the moment, outpacing all other candidates in polling averages double digits.

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