The New Hampshire primary is the first primary election held in the United States and the second step following the Iowa Caucuses in choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidency. It takes place in the small state of New Hampshire and is designed to give an early and important voice to the New England region much like the Iowa Caucus gives an early and important voice to the Midwest, South Carolina Primary to the South and Nevada Caucus to the West.
The New Hampshire Primary has a proud history that goes back to 1916. People were not voting directly for the candidates in 1916 instead they voted for delegates for the National Convention. In 1949 Richard Upton decided to make the primary more meaningful by passing legislation allowing the people to vote directly for the candidates instead of for delegates. In 1952, 43% of New Hampshire voters cast their votes in the states first true primary. In 1977 delegate names were removed from the ballot and a law that eliminated any possible future encroachment on the state’s primary being the first was enacted. It has been the the first primary in the nation since that law in 1977. This represents the first time when the people have a direct voice in their parties presidential candidate, unlike the caucuses.
New Hampshire is considered an independent state that votes both Democrat and Republican and therefore has been considered a good gauge of the nations feelings. Though more liberal west coast voters, southern conservatives and minorities would probably beg to differ. The state’s population is 96% white. Nevertheless, the voters of New Hampshire seem to be aware of this and vote for a candidate’s nationwide-electability in addition to their own personal choice. In 1992 the neighbor senator of Massachusetts, Paul Tsongas defeated southerner Bill Clinton 33.2% to 24.8%, but Clinton’s strong showing surprised most and gave him the momentum to win and the nickname”The Comeback Kid”.
The New Hampshire Primary gives a candidate with little money, low name recognition or candidates from smaller states legitimate shots at winning. It is a small state who demands personal contact and is opposed to typical negative political ads. History says do well in Iowa or New Hampshire or go home.