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.

Natasha Haverty

In the 2016 presidential campaign, few issues have been as fiercely debated as immigration. Here in New Hampshire, the US Southern border thousands of miles away can feel like an abstraction. But a small and growing number of voters in New Hampshire take the immigration debate very personally: the state’s Latino community. And as that community grows, so does its resolve to find a political voice. 

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. 

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New Hampshire’s primary is just five weeks away, and state election officials are anticipating record turnout. There’s something else on their minds too—this will be the first presidential primary with the state’s new voter ID law in place. 

The law, which passed three and a half years ago, was part of a wave of stricter voter laws pushed by Republicans across the country. How it plays out on Primary Day is still an open question.

 


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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

All political campaigns boil down to one question: How do you get more people to vote for your candidate than for any other?

The outcome of this year's New Hampshire Republican presidential primary could hinge on how well campaigns manage this so-called ground game.


Chris Jensen for NHPR

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

Allegra Boverman | Kate Harper

The fight late last week among Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee seems to have simmered down.

The DNC censured Sanders' campaign for improperly getting access to confidential voter data from Clinton's team. The restrictions have since been lifted, but the incident shone a light on a little known, but critical aspect of the 2016 presidential race: how candidates use data to identify, reach and influence potential supporters.

After Bernie Sanders announced his proposal to make college free, college affordability has been front and center in the Democratic primary. When it comes to broad goals, the candidates agree. But as for the best way to get there, that’s where they differ.

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

When Bill Binnie launched WBIN-TV in 2011, less than a year after losing the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, his goal was to bring more competition to New Hampshire political coverage.

Binnie had another incentive, of course: The tens of millions of dollars spent on political advertising during the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

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.

Wikipedia

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

NHPR/Michael Brindley

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?

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