State of Democracy

NHPR's reporting initiative focused on the impact of politics and public policy on the residents of New Hampshire and beyond. Learn more here.

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"On the Political Front" is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.  

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If you’re hosting a party, what kind of music would you play? What kind of food would you serve?

Those are the types of questions Ohio Gov. John Kasich faced recently at one of the more unique series of campaign events during this New Hampshire presidential primary season.

“So what’s your question – who would I invite?” said Kasich, seemingly puzzled by the question of who he would invite to a party he was hosting.

“Who would you invite? What would a party look like if you hosted a party?”

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Over a presidential campaign season that grows longer every four years, candidates have long counted on voters changing their minds before Primary Day. But we don’t often hear about how or why voters make up their minds in the first place. NHPR followed up with three voters to see how they are forming – and changing—their opinions over the course of the campaign.

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. 

This primary season, NHPR is taking a closer look at some of the issues defining the presidential primary races in a series we’re calling Where They Stand. Today, we’re looking at gun control and the Democratic candidates' positions, both past and present.

Compared to some of his rivals, Marco Rubio hasn’t been seen much in the Granite State, either in person or on TV.

That’s about to change.

Natasha Haverty for NHPR

On Sunday, New Hampshire’s Democratic Party hosted its annual Jefferson Jackson dinner. All three Democratic presidential candidates spoke to the sold out crowd in Manchester’s Radisson Ballroom. Hillary Clinton closed out the night. More so than Sanders or O’Malley, her speech called on time spent here in the Granite State. 

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

With all of the recent posturing at the State House, it might be easy to assume that Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republicans in the Legislature are having trouble finding common ground on how best to tackle substance abuse. But, as lawmakers gear up for a special session devoted to New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic, that’s not necessarily the case.

The towns in New Hampshire's White Mountains region have been must-stops on the campaign schedules of presidential candidates for decades. The region's sweeping views, quaint villages and history of resilience make it the ideal backdrop for those auditioning for the Oval Office. But what’s in it for the voters? And how engaged are they, away from the campaign stops and photo ops? NHPR's Natasha Haverty wanted to find out.

Natasha Haverty / NHPR

For those of us who have been around a few election cycles, this year stands out from the others—outsiders favored over career politicians, new campaign finance rules and super PACs, an unwieldy candidate line up. But for first time voters—18 year olds—it’s all new. NHPR’s Natasha Haverty visited a civics class at Kennett High School in Conway, to hear from some of them.

Natasha Haverty

It’s on every presidential candidate’s checklist: make at least one swing through northern New Hampshire, deliver a stump speech, shake hands with residents of the quiet mountain towns. But what about the people who aren’t at those campaign events? 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

For the past two weeks, presidential candidates have been handing in the paperwork needed to qualify for the New Hampshire primary ballot. In doing so, they also come face to face with Secretary of State Bill Gardner, whose office oversees the election. He's also the man most responsible for ensuring that New Hampshire has retained its first-in-the-nation status when it comes to the presidential primary calendar.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

Huge rallies with thousands of supporters. Ad buys that try to reach millions of voters. Those are the hallmarks of modern presidential campaigns.

But there’s a good chance the next president will have also spent some time getting to know voters one on one in much smaller settings – like Rich Ashooh's living room.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

If any single mode of campaigning could be said to typify the New Hampshire Primary it would probably be the town hall meeting, where would-be presidents throw open the floor to questions from all comers. Some New Hampshire Primary winners - think John McCain - have put town halls at the very center of their strategies. But that’s not been the case with top candidates this year.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Sanders arrived at the William B. Cashin Senior Center in Manchester around noon Friday, having just flown in from Washington and a 3 a.m. Senate vote on the latest budget deal.

When the Department of Education released its latest round of state-level reading and math scores this week, it was cause for cheer in New Hampshire. The state ranked in the top two or three states in every category and grade-level tests.

Those kind of high marks have been common in New Hampshire for years. But a recent report suggests the state’s status as one of the nation’s top test-takers should come down a few notches. 

Chris Jensen/NHPR

Here's an issue with bipartisan consensus: Both parties agree the opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing challenges facing New Hampshire. But Democrats and Republicans in the State House are not quite yet reading from the same script on how to tackle this problem.

Last week we examined the campaign money landscape in the New Hampshire Primary, both how candidates are raising money in the state, and how they're spending it.

But what do those dollars mean against the national campaign fundraising picture?

Jim Cole / AP

If you’d like to understand what a decline in civics education means for the future of the country’s political system, David Souter suggests a sports analogy.

“As somebody said a while back – you know, if you go to a baseball game and you don’t know what the rules of the game are, it’s incomprehensible. If you know something about the three strikes rule, it’s maybe a little bit more comprehensible,” the retired United States Supreme Court justice told an audience at Nashua Community College Monday afternoon. “Well, the same thing goes for government.”

Screenshots from Brigade App

Maybe you’re looking for somewhere to sound off on the fate of the Manchester teachers’ contract, or the expansion of rail service from Boston, or marijuana legalization — or even the future of the midnight voting tradition in Dixville Notch. Well, you’re in luck: There’s an app for that.

This primary season, NHPR is taking a closer look at some of the issues defining the presidential primary races through a series we’re calling Where They Stand. Today we’re looking at some of the top foreign policy questions in the Republican primary.

On this subject, while the candidates agree on most issues, there are still differences to be found.

Presidential candidates boosted their spending in New Hampshire this summer, spending nearly six times as much as they did in the previous three month period.

The Republican and Democratic candidates doled out nearly $2 million across the state from July to September. The vast majority of that cash, however, went to a small handful of Republican operatives and consultants -- and the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

istock photo

Following a recent wave of mergers in the insurance industry, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is raising “serious concerns” about the potentially harmful impact of these deals on consumers. She nodded specifically to the projected effects of the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger on New Hampshire’s insurance market.

Turn on the television in New Hampshire these days, and you won’t have to wait long before Jeb Bush, John Kasich or Chris Christie pops up on your screen. 

Credit Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

It's one of the more, shall we say, parochial questions presidential candidates have faced on the campaign trail this year: What do you think of the proposed gas pipeline that may be routed through New Hampshire?

The pipeline is officially known as the Northeast Energy Direct Project.  And the question of whether it should run through the southern part of the state has been posed to a number of both Republicans and Democrats, including Jeb Bush. 

Republican donors in New Hampshire are beginning to loosen their purse strings for their party’s primary contenders.

Granite Staters contributed more than $220,000 to GOP presidential candidates in the third quarter of 2015. That’s $70,000 more than Democrats took in, and a big change from earlier in the year, when Republican candidates were out-raised in New Hampshire by a two-to-one margin.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Before last week's Democratic presidential debate, the first of the primary season,  former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wasn't on the radar of many New Hampshire voters.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

It’s hard to find housing in New Hampshire, according to those who spoke at a summit on the issue in Manchester on Friday — but it’s particularly challenging for young professionals, older adults and those with limited incomes.

Addressing this is a key part of ensuring the state’s economic viability in the long run, according to the local officials who spoke at the event.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

By most measures of success, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid is lagging: low poll numbers, few major endorsements, little money raised. But those challenges aren’t slowing the GOP candidate in his efforts to win over Granite State voters.

UNH Communication and Public Affairs

Every four years, as interest in New Hampshire’s presidential primary rises, two UNH political scientists find their services in high demand. Now, the professors are preparing to offer their insights to the general public through a new online course.

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