Blog: Politics & Policy

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?

Elaine Grant / NHPR

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.

For some, it's a chance to show off an army of supporters and pay homage to a long-running New Hampshire political tradition. For others, it's a chance to formalize their run for the presidency — however far-fetched their candidacy may be.

Graham 2016

With less than three months until the New Hampshire primary, Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham has begun airing his first television and radio ads in the state.

Graham has been among the most avid on-the-ground campaigners in the state: Since August, he's spent 33 days here. But this will be the first time Graham has spent money on ads.

Courtesy David Mulder via Flickr Creative Commons

A bipartisan commission says New Hampshire lawmakers should consider adding comprehensive dental benefits to the state's Medicaid program for adults. The commission, which was created last year to analyze barriers to dental care in New Hampshire, released its final report on Monday.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A 64-year-old New Hampshire woman with terminal lung cancer has sued the Department of Health and Human Services over the state’s rollout of its medical marijuana program.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

For most presidential candidates, getting on the New Hampshire ballot is a fairly straightforward affair: Show up at the State House, bring $1,000 to cover the filing fee, and sign a form affirming  you’re registered with your chosen political party.

For Bernie Sanders, that last part has proven slightly more complicated.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The presidential candidates who start parading through Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office this week might do well to pay special attention to the desk that’ll be on display nearby — its original owner is to thank (or blame) for why they’re spending so much time in New Hampshire these days.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Retired state workers under age 65 will have to pay 5 percent more in monthly premiums beginning in January, under changes approved by lawmakers Tuesday morning.

Andrew Walsh, NHPR

By now, those on the front lines at the Secretary of State’s office have come to expect two distinct types when it comes to presidential candidates.

There are the ones who treat the ballot filing period like a campaign event. They bring along throngs of supporters and make sure to call ahead to check that they won’t have to share the spotlight with any competitors.

And then there are the ones who just show up.

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