Blog: Politics & Policy

You might already be overwhelmed by the number of TV ads about this year's U.S. Senate race between Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan.  And if you're like a lot of people, you're confused about who's paying for all these 30-second commercials, and why.

Before you tune it out completely, here's a video guide to navigating the political advertising - and money - behind this important race.

 A substance-abuse treatment advocate who appeared in a political ad criticizing Gov. Maggie Hassan's handling of the state's drug crisis has resigned from the nonprofit she once led.

Melissa Crews stepped down from the board of HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery earlier this week, according to the Concord Monitor.

For political observers and journalists, there is something appealing about the idea of a bellwether town -- a place whose vote in an election consistently matches up with the statewide totals. Journalists can patrol the main streets of bellwethers for man-on-the-street interviews, confident they will feel shifts in the broader political winds.

But the data shows that true bellwethers are an endangered species in many parts of the country. 

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Each year since 2010, the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has asked New Hampshire candidates to sign onto a “pledge” vowing to cut taxes and spending, as well as to oppose the Affordable Care Act.

And usually, the Republicans running for governor are quick to sign on. That's not the case this year.

As expected, the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan is on pace to become the most expensive political campaign in New Hampshire history. With more than three months to go before Election Day, the contest is already awash in cash: Total spending stands at $34 million.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Coming on the heels of last year's prolonged budget fight, with negotiations stretching months longer than usual, the 2016 session of the New Hampshire Legislature can't help but seem a bit sleepier. But, in fact, it was a busy few months for lawmakers.

Things kicked off early, actually, with a special session in November to address the state's opioid crisis. Lawmakers eventually worked through more than 1,000 bills, wrapping things up late last month. 

Allegra Boverman/NHPR

Back in February, New Hampshire handed Sen. Bernie Sanders his first victory in pursuit of the presidency. Four months later, with Hillary Clinton poised to earn the Democratic nomination, where does that leave the more than 151,000 Granite Staters who backed her opponent?

Well, it depends.

AP

Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter in the 1980 New Hampshire presidential election. Four years later, he did the same to Walter Mondale. So resounding were those thumpings, Carter won just two towns in the state, Mondale five. 

Republican supremacy in the state did not start with Reagan, nor did it end with him. But Reagan’s two victories may represent the GOP high-water mark in New Hampshire presidential contests. The question now is: Has Republican support in the state bottomed out, or could it continue to fall in 2016? And what might Donald Trump, this year's unconventional GOP nominee, mean for this trend?

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

New Hampshire is taking a step toward setting up a more coordinated system to help children with behavioral health needs.

On Monday, the governor signed into law a bill calling for a top-to-bottom review of what behavioral health services are available to kids in New Hampshire, how they’re delivered (in schools, in the community and elsewhere), and how to make sure separate agencies are working together to get kids the care they need. 

C-SPAN

Followers of New Hampshire politics might’ve noticed a familiar face (and voice) at Donald Trump’s much-hyped press conference on Tuesday morning: Al Baldasaro, a state representative from Londonderry who Trump has referred to at varying times as “The King” and his “favorite vet.”

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte continues to stand by her statement that she’ll support -- but not endorse -- apparent Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Three Republican candidates for New Hampshire governor have said they will support the party's likely nominee for president. As for the fourth? That story is a little more complicated. 

It's the question every Republican is facing this week: "Will you support Donald Trump?"

For the GOP hopefuls in the New Hampshire governor's race, the answer has been "yes." 

NHPR

With Ted Cruz and John Kasich pulling the plugs on their presidential campaigns, it's a big week for backers of likely Republican nominee Donald Trump.  

And that's got some conservatives in New Hampshire coming to terms with a new reality: Donald Trump is now the official face of their party.  

Allegra Boverman, NHPR

Democracy for America, one of the nation’s largest grassroots progressive organizations, is backing Democrat Colin Van Ostern in the race for governor — the group’s first gubernatorial endorsement of the 2016 election cycle.

NHPR Staff

Sure, the prospect of being a delegate to a national political convention has always been a big deal — but it's usually also kind of a formality.

By the time a convention rolls around, parties typically know who’s gathered enough support to earn the nomination, according to whatever rules they’ve established in advance.

Not so in 2016.

Healthnewsnet / Flickr Creative Commons

In New Hampshire, there’s about a 5-year gap between the life expectancy for adult women at the top of the income bracket and those at the bottom. For men in the same age group, the gap’s more than nine years wide.

That's according to new data released by The Health Inequality Project, which takes a sweeping look at the relationship between income and mortality across the country.

NH Bar Association

Former New Hampshire Public Defender Dorothy Graham has taken a job with the New England office of the Federal Public Defender. Graham, who was nominated by Gov. Maggie Hassan last year to serve as a judge on the state Superior Court, saw her hopes for the bench scuttled after a conservative website accused her of a “history of trying to get child rapists off on technicalities.”

Read Emily Corwin's story about Graham's nomination and rejection.

Sara Plourde for NHPR

The question of whether to continue New Hampshire's expanded Medicaid program has been one of the top State House policy debates this year.

But it's something local governments are mulling over as well. In City Halls across the state, officials say the program has led to some significant savings: in the slice of taxpayers’ money set aside for medical and prescription aid, and indirect savings in other areas.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Think back on last month’s New Hampshire Presidential Primary, and security details probably don’t come to mind.

Maybe that’s because during the nearly nine months candidates campaigned in the Granite State, no major incidents arose. But providing this security came at a price to taxpayers -- more than a quarter million dollars, in fact. 


Three weeks after the First in the Nation Presidential Primary, nine months before the November election, and New Hampshire is already on to a new round of political ads.

It began today with a 30-second spot from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, which features her 11-year-old daughter, Kate.

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. 

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