NH Presidential Primary

Citizens Count Editor

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

“New Hampshire should keep the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.”

  • Because New Hampshire is a small state, it levels the playing field between well-funded and lesser known candidates. Through local campaigning, every candidate has a roughly equal opportunity to make themselves known to New Hampshire voters beyond thirty-second messages in mass media.
  • Unlike other states that have an overwhelming interest in one industry, such as mining, agriculture, or technology development, New Hampshire has a diverse economy. This discourages candidates from pledging themselves to represent one economic interest over another.
  • New Hampshire voters are more civically engaged than the population in other states, with consistently high voter turnout. 
  • When New Hampshire’s uniquely engaged electorate puts candidates to the test, voters across the nation are able to observe the results in real time, giving them a valuable perspective when the time comes for them to cast their ballots.

Adapted from a 2011 op-ed by former U.S. Senator John E. Sununu. 

"Against" Position

“New Hampshire should not have the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.”

  • Studies estimate that the average New Hampshire voter wields as much influence as five Super Tuesday voters. The demographics of New Hampshire do not match those of the nation as a whole. White non-Hispanics make up 63.7 of the U.S. population, but a whopping 92.3 percent of the population in New Hampshire. New Hampshire families are also more likely to speak English, or have been born in the U.S., or live in rural areas than the rest of the population. By putting New Hampshire first, parties give disproportionate influence to a small group of mostly white, rural voters, and effectively disenfranchise minority voters.
  • New Hampshire’s primary voter turnout might be high compared to that of other state primaries, but it’s still generally lower than voter turnout in general elections. That undermines the case that New Hampshire voters are exceptionally engaged and therefore deserve their outsized influence.  
  • Supporters of the New Hampshire primary argue the state’s small size gives underdog campaigns more opportunity to take off, since campaigning in New Hampshire is less expensive than mounting a nationwide effort. However, this doesn’t justify why New Hampshire in particular should be the small state with that privilege. Why not a state with more diversity, or a rotation of small first-in-the-nation locations?
  • Polls indicate that most Americans aren’t happy with New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation monopoly. Over 70% of Americans would support alternating who goes first and nearly 75% like the idea of a nation-wide primary. 

Adapted from “I’m from NewHampshire, and the New Hampshire primary has to go” by Dylan Matthews.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Tabled in the Senate

Establishes a commission on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary to coordinate with and advise the secretary of state in regards to the primary. The secretary of state would retain the power of setting the date of the primary.

Interim Study

"National Popular Vote Bill," an interstate agreement to elect the President by national popular vote.

Signed by Governor

Revises the declaration of candidacy form for presidential candidates so that a candidate does not have to be a formal member of the political party he or she is seeking to run in, and instead only needs to be "a recognized candidate for President in the party in which I desire to file." This could impact candidates such as Bernie Sanders, who is an independent in the U.S. Senate but ran for president as a Democrat.

Killed in the House

Allows a presidential candidate in a primary to request a moderator or clerk to create an "instant polling place" at a location where a candidate gathers at least 5,000 residents.

Killed in the Senate

Requires any presidential primary candidate to disclose 3 years' worth of his or her federal income tax returns.

Killed in the Senate

Makes the September primary day and presidential primary day state holidays.

Killed in the House

Requires any presidential primary candidate to disclose 5 years' worth of his or her federal income tax returns.

Killed in the House

Requires disclosure of federal income tax returns by presidential and vice-presidential candidates and posting of the returns on the secretary of state's website.

Killed in the Senate

Requires disclosure of federal income tax returns by presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

Killed in the House

States that "If a party seats delegates at the national party convention from this state that have not been apportioned in accordance with [state law], the party shall be prohibited from participating in the next presidential primary election."

Killed in the House

Apportions the state's presidential electors so that two at-large presidential electors shall cast their ballots for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who received the highest number of votes in the state, and congressional district presidential electors shall cast their ballots for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who received the highest number of votes in their respective congressional districts.

Killed in the House

"National Popular Vote Bill," an interstate agreement to elect the President by national popular vote.

Signed by Governor

Removes the requirement that Presidential Primary candidates are listed in the alphabetical order of their surnames on the ballot.

Killed in the House

"National Popular Vote Bill," an interstate agreement to elect the President by national popular vote.

Killed in the House

"National Popular Vote Bill," an interstate agreement to elect the President by national popular vote.

Should NH keep its first-in-the-nation presidential primary?

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Issue Status

The NH 2020 presidential primary took place on February 11, 2020.

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