New Hampshire, also known as the Granite State, is one of the original 13 colonies and has a long history of democratic traditions and high levels of political participation.

The state motto, “Live Free or Die,” speaks to its citizens’ tendency to hold a conservative belief in small government and a liberal, or libertarian, belief in individual freedom.

Voters will head to the polls for the state’s first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 23, in a process that is markedly different than the Iowa caucuses.

Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, told The Epoch Times the turnout level is much higher than in Iowa, where political ideologues control the event and determine the outcome.

In New Hampshire, the state controls the event, and rank-and-file voters determine its outcome.

Just as in Iowa, Mr. Smith—who has run polls in New Hampshire since 2000—said New Hampshire voters are deeply proud of their primary and the role their votes play in setting the agenda for the rest of the nation.

In terms of size and population, New Hampshire is one of the smallest states.

The U.S. Census Bureau set its July 2023 population estimate at 1.4 million. Its area, from the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast to Halls Stream in the northwest, covers just 8,953 square miles, making it one of the smallest states in the union.

The state is also overwhelmingly white and middle or upper class. The Census Bureau determined that 92.6 percent of the population is white. The median household income is $90,845.

Mr. Smith said two-thirds of the state lives within 50 miles of downtown Boston and is effectively a bedroom community of the city.

New Hampshire State Librarian Michael York told The Epoch Times the rest of the state is rural and is derisively referred to as “Cow Hampshire” by its New England neighbors.

Mr. York, who leads the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ State Library, said the state is one of the most educated and highly politically engaged. According to the Census Bureau, 93.8 percent of its citizenry over the age of 25 holds a high school diploma, and 39 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Democracy is part of New Hampshire’s blood. The state’s bicameral legislature, the General Court of New Hampshire, has 400 representatives and 24 senators. That’s far more than any other state body, he said. Moreover, members of the General Court get paid just $100 per year, which guards against its politicians making a career out of legislating.

Mr. York also spoke about a venerable tradition of town meetings where every citizen of a hamlet or city is invited into the town hall annually to hold a direct vote on matters of civic import.

The Presidential Primary

New Hampshire closely guards its status as the first primary in the country. By law, the secretary of state, a position currently held by David Scanlan, is required to set its primary date ahead of any other in the nation.

Following that law, in November 2023, Mr. Scanlan defied the Democratic National Committee by moving the date of the primary to Jan. 23. That set it ahead of the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary scheduled for Feb. 3.

According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office, polls are required to be open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. However, many often open earlier.

A few small towns have their primaries at midnight on primary day and finish voting within minutes, as they are allowed to do so under state law. Mr. Smith said it’s more of a gimmick for the media to cover than a representation of the outcome.

Mr. York, who characterized the Iowa caucuses as a “consummate waste of time,” said the New Hampshire primary is an actual election paid for and overseen by the state. The caucuses are local meetings organized by Iowa’s political parties with a presidential preference poll attached.

In the Jan. 15 caucuses, won by former President Donald Trump, just 5 percent of Iowa’s 2.2 million registered voters showed up. Mr. Smith said the turnout for the New Hampshire primary is often 45 to 55 percent. Mr. York said seeing a 60 to 70 percent turnout is not unheard of, either.

In the 2020 presidential primary, according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office, about 459,000 of the state’s approximately 977,000 registered voters participated. That’s a turnout of about 47 percent. In 2016, about 542,000 of approximately 874,000 registered voters participated. That’s a turnout of about 62 percent.

According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office, there were about 873,000 voters who were registered with a political party at the end of December 2023. The largest portion of those voters, about 343,000, are registered as undeclared.

The undeclared are allowed to vote in the presidential primary, but they are required to choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot when they vote.

Mr. Smith and Mr. York said those undeclared voters are highly sought after by politicians and possibly mischaracterized by the media as genuinely independent. In truth, the undeclared, Mr. Smith said, are divided into three roughly equal camps of conservative, independent, and liberal voters.

In New Hampshire, voters can register to vote on the same day as an election. Plus, Mr. Smith said anyone who is “domiciled” in New Hampshire can vote in the primary.

The state’s relatively loose election laws allow anyone who can show proof of residence in New Hampshire to vote in the primary. This allows a large portion of out-of-state college students and new arrivals to vote in the contest.


In Iowa’s 2024 contest, the weather likely played a role in the final vote tally and sidelined last-minute campaigning. Mr. York said New Englanders are hardy and won’t likely be as discouraged from voting by poor weather.

That said, according to the National Weather Service’s Jan. 17 projection, the weather is clear for the primary and the preceding week. On Jan. 16, the state got hit with snow, but the long-range forecast shows seasonal temperatures, mostly clear skies, and little chance for participation through primary day.

The 10-day forecast for Manchester, New Hampshire, according to the NWS, calls for a high of 41 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 23.

Political forecasters are less reliable than the NWS. However, the 2024 primary will certainly be focused on the Republican Party’s three-way race between President Trump, former U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Current New Hampshire polling shows President Trump is in a firm lead, but Ms. Haley is running a competitive race. Some polls show her close to the margin of error, while others show President Trump maintains a comfortable advantage.

Five major polls were conducted in January. They show President Trump with a range of a 7 percent to 16 percent advantage over Ms. Haley.

The most recent poll, conducted by Suffolk University, was published on Jan. 17 by the Boston Globe. It determined that 50.4 percent of likely Republican primary voters back President Trump, 33.8 percent will choose Ms. Haley, and 5.2 percent are voting for Mr. DeSantis. The same poll said 5.8 percent of those surveyed are still undecided.

The Suffolk poll questioned 500 likely Republican primary voters between Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 and reported a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ended his candidacy on Jan. 10. Ahead of that announcement, he was caught saying Ms. Haley will “get smoked.”

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy pulled out of the race on Jan. 15 after coming in fourth in Iowa. Mr. Ramaswamy is now campaigning with President Trump in New Hampshire.

Ms. Haley split her campaign time in December and January between Iowa and New Hampshire. She has secured the endorsement of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and is making her pitch to Granite State voters with him in tow.

Exit polling from Iowa may preview a strong showing for Ms. Haley. In Iowa, voters who identified as more educated, politically moderate, or liberal, and those who said they decided on a candidate later in the cycle voted for Ms. Haley.

Ms. Haley finished in third place in Iowa. She was narrowly behind Mr. DeSantis who had campaigned much harder in that state. Only 2,335 votes separated the pair.

On the Democrat side, President Joe Biden is not on the New Hampshire ballot at all.

The Democratic National Committee, which has already christened the incumbent president as the party’s nominee, chose to eschew New Hampshire entirely. Instead, it is making the South Carolina presidential primary its first officially recognized contest.

For reference, President Biden got his road to the White House on track in 2020 with a win in South Carolina. He dealt with a disappointing fourth-place finish at the disputed 2020 Iowa Democratic Party caucuses and a fifth-place showing in New Hampshire.

Mr. Smith said there is a significant effort in the state to have President Biden’s name written in anyway. That will doubtlessly slow down the results of the election as the write-in ballots will need to be certified.

Winning the Granite State and Nomination

On the Republican side, the past three winners of the primary have gone on to win the nomination.

Longtime Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the New Hampshire primary in 2008 and was the Republican candidate against President Barack Obama, eight years after he beat President George W. Bush in New Hampshire, although President Bush went on to clinch the nomination in 2000.

In 2012, Mitt Romney, who had served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, won the primary and was the Republican candidate facing President Obama.

President Trump won the primary in 2016 after narrowly losing to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Iowa. He went on to take the White House after beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The Democratic side has seen more alignment between Iowa and New Hampshire. Eventual general election candidates such as former Vice President Al Gore and then-Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts won both states in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

Since 2004, the Democratic winner in New Hampshire has not been picked at the party’s convention. Ms. Clinton won in 2008, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won in both 2016 and 2020. Mr. York chalked up the Sanders victories to the fact that New Hampshire likes its fellow New Englanders at the polls.

Like Iowa, Mr. York said, New Hampshire voters expect to see the candidates in their community and interact with them. The citizenry resents candidates that don’t.

“You have to spend the time here. You can’t fly in and out,” Mr. York said. “I think it’s the calculation that Nikki Haley made.” He added that Ms. Haley likely didn’t think she was going to do that well in Iowa, primarily because President Trump was so strong there.

The long history of the New Hampshire primary has taught Mr. Smith there are three keys to winning the primary.

First, the candidates need to know the electorate and know who they are speaking with. The same message that plays in Iowa will not necessarily work in New Hampshire.

Second, winning candidates know that New Hampshire voters are more open-minded and less conservative than Iowa voters. Very little of the electorate is committed to one candidate, and a good turn or a bad flub on the campaign trail can sway them.

“Exit polls in New Hampshire show routinely that 35 to 45 percent of voters say they make up their minds in the last three days; 15 to 20 percent make up their mind on Election Day,” Mr. Smith said.

Third, most voters are “just regular folks” who are not heavily engaged in politics. A high turnout electorate means it’s not just the hardcore who show up to vote.

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