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.

Current Population Survey, © 2016 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

New Hampshire lawmakers are again debating Right-to-Work laws, with bills currently moving through both the House and Senate. With Republican majorities in both chambers, and a newly-elected governor who favors Right-to-Work, the policy stands its best chance of passing in more than a decade.

But Right-to-Work isn’t exactly a kitchen-table kind of issue. If you aren’t in a union, or a large business owner, you may not know much about its history, what Right-to-Work does, or why it matters.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire’s governor doesn’t have a whole lot of executive power, at least compared to peers in other states. But one of the few ways a governor can exert his or her influence is through nominations to fill open seats across state agencies.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

From changes in voting registration to changes to party primaries or the Electoral College, New Hampshire lawmakers are preparing a slew of bills aimed at reforming the state’s elections.

In all, at least 40 bills aimed at tinkering with the state’s election laws are in the works for 2017.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

It’s not unusual for local officials across New Hampshire to be asked to turn over emails or other records under the state’s right-to-know law. In Manchester, City Clerk Matt Normand estimates his office receives about 100 such requests each year.

It is unusual, however, for a city to be on the receiving end of a public records request from the state itself.

Heading into November, New Hampshire Democrats talked a big game when it came to their hopes for retaking control of the state Senate.

But when the Republicans ended up maintaining the same 14-10 margin they’ve held for the past two years, Democrats placed at least part of the blame for their losses on gerrymandered district lines.

As it turns out, they might have a point.

A New Rep Learns The Ropes On State House Orientation Day

Nov 30, 2016
Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The New Hampshire House has 400 members. But few of them are under 30. Donovan Fenton is among the young newcomers. He's 27 years-old, and will soon represent his hometown of Keene.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

When New Hampshire voters walk into the polls Tuesday, they’ll be greeted by a process that has remained largely unchanged for decades: paper ballots, filled out by hand, with voter rolls monitored by pencil-wielding clerks. And the way the state’s top election official sees it, there’s little reason to mess with a good thing.

Natasha Haverty/NHPR

This Tuesday, millions of people across the country will head to the polls to cast their votes and help decide who should hold our nation’s highest offices. But there will also be millions of people who won't go to the polls. In fact, four out of 10 adults in the U.S. do not vote. 

And they have their reasons, too. We went to one Manchester neighborhood where voter turnout is particularly low to learn more.

The race for control of the New Hampshire Senate is playing out across the state’s 24 Senate districts.

But, thanks in part to years of partisan gerrymandering, the majority of those districts are not terribly competitive, with either Democrats or Republicans all but guaranteed a victory.

There are a few towns and cities across New Hampshire that -- time and again -- almost perfectly mirror how the state votes as a whole. Political junkies call a town like this a "bellwether." 

One of the state's most tried and true bellwether communities is the city of Rochester. 

NHPR

As a first-term Democrat, serving in a Republican-led Congress in an era of intense partisan gridlock, Ann Kuster probably wasn’t going to accomplish a lot after being elected in 2012.

 

And in the four years since, Kuster has had an unremarkable run in Washington, by at least one measure: Of the 29 bills she’s introduced, just one - to rename an air traffic control tower in Nashua – was signed into law.

 

Then again, House Democrats on the whole haven’t had many legislative achievements since Republicans took over Congress in 2010. But according to Kuster, there’s more to her record over the last four years than meets the eye.

 On Tuesday, New Hampshire voters will head to the polls to cast votes in national and statewide races.

Thanks to NHPR's New Hampshire Elections Database, we're able to take a look at town-level election results up and down the ballot dating all the way back to 1972.

So, how has your New Hampshire town voted in recent gubernatorial and presidential elections? How about U.S. Senate Races? Explore our interactive maps to find out.

Among the presidential candidates, environmental issues haven’t gotten much play this campaign season.

Here in New Hampshire, that’s not quite the case, especially in the gubernatorial race where issues like Northern Pass, solar and wind energy and high energy costs have helped shape the campaign.

One New Hampshire City, Two Immigration Stories

Oct 26, 2016

Pam Colantuono and Minata Toure have never met. But they have a few things in common.

They both live in Manchester. They’re both moms. And the biggest thing they share — the thing that shapes both their lives and how they see the world — is the classic American immigration story.


Complaints about skewed public polls are nothing new. Recent election cycles have included many such accusations from candidates – especially when they’re running behind. In 2012, many Republicans held onto the idea that the polls were skewed against Mitt Romney, right up until Barack Obama won reelection.

Wednesday is the deadline for candidates for state elected office to file campaign finance reports, detailing how much money they’ve raised and spent since the primary.

 

But these reports will give us only a glimpse of how the political dollars are flowing this year.

 

Following trends in recent elections, outside groups are expected to make a considerable investment to try and sway voters before they go to the polls less than three weeks from now.

 

New Hampshire is still considered a swing state, despite a trend toward Democrats in the last few presidential elections. But when you look further down the ballot, there are relatively few districts that can still be called battlegrounds—most are reliably red or blue. One of the last ones left is a long slice of the Seacoast—State Senate District 24. NHPR’s Natasha Haverty reports on how two candidates are working to tip the scales there.


National security has proven to be a pivotal issue in this year's Senate race between Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Ayotte, a Republican, has cast herself as a strong advocate for the nation's security, pointing to her record in the Senate. Hassan, a Democrat, has taken some positions that put her at odds with her own party and President Obama.

Save the Children Action Network

    

Early-learning programs have always been a tough sell in New Hampshire. Child advocates and educators have tried for years to break lawmakers’ resistance to the idea, yet a proposal to put more 5-year-olds in all-day kindergarten can still roil Concord for months.

A Washington, D.C. political group with deep pockets, a team of lobbyists and a small army of volunteers wants to change that.

Allegra Boverman, Jason Moon for NHPR

Battles over funding for Planned Parenthood have become a familiar political drama over the past several years.

In this year’s gubernatorial election, Democrat Colin Van Ostern is hoping to use his opponent Republican Chris Sununu’s history on the issue against him. But the history can get complicated.

Allegra Boverman, NHPR

Last week, we asked you what you’d ask the candidates running for governor, if given the chance. Since then, you sent us two dozen questions that were on your mind — addressing everything from drug prevention to dealing with infrastructure upgrades to what it's like to run for governor while being a dad.

Special interest groups spent nearly half a million dollars on the primary races for governor and state Legislature that ended Tuesday, led by a nonprofit social-welfare organization with ties to a prominent Concord lobbying firm.

Jim Cole/AP

New Hampshire voters had the biggest field of candidates for governor to consider  that they've had in twenty years--seven people wanted the job. But how much can a New Hampshire governor actually do, anyway? 


Natasha Haverty

July 20, 3:36 pm. Republican State Senator Nancy Stiles sits in her favorite Portsmouth coffee shop, wearing a summer dress and a necklace of big yellow beads. After serving three terms in Concord representing District 24, she’s decided to step down: time to give someone else a turn. Within weeks of Stiles’ retirement, a quartet of eager Republicans stepped in the race to replace her.

Stiles looks up over a half-eaten piece of cake and makes a wish. “I’m hoping the campaign doesn’t get overly nasty,” she sighs.

New Hampshire’s gubernatorial primary is just a few days away, and the top issue for many voters is how to solve the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Last week, we took a closer look at some of the economic proposals from the Republicans running for governor. This week, we’re catching up on where the Democratic candidates stand on these issues.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Update, Sept. 7: You can find Republican Ted Gatsas' completed questionnaire here.

Taxes. The economy. Education spending. The opioid epidemic. New Hampshire's next governor faces a long list of policy challenges when he or she takes office in January. With the largest field of contenders in at least two decades, sorting through the gubernatorial candidates' positions on these and other issues is no easy task.

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.

NHPR staff

Ted Gatsas isn’t the first candidate for governor to take advantage of a gap in New Hampshire’s election law that allows wealthy donors to dodge limits on campaign contributions.

But no one has benefited more from the so-called LLC loophole than the Manchester mayor.

As New Hampshire students head back to school this week, education is on many parents’ minds. And with the gubernatorial primary less than two weeks away, candidates’ positions on these issues could play a major role on voters’ decisions. 

In this year’s governor’s race, the candidates’ views fall largely along party lines, with differences over how much and where to spend money.

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