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The Role of The NH Presidential Primary in National Elections

Since 1920, New Hampshire has played a major role in presidential politics as the home of the first in the nation presidential primary. While the Iowa caucuses technically happen first, the New Hampshire primary is the most important test for any serious presidential contestant before the action explodes across the country.

It wasn't always this way. It's only been since the last decades of the 20thcentury that it has taken on such an important role. Until the post-war era, presidential candidates were basically chosen in smoke-filled rooms at the national conventions in the summer by party insiders. In the run-up to the 1960 election, JFK only entered one primary – West Virginia, to prove that a Roman Catholic could carry a Protestant state.

After the turmoil of the 1968 convention, widely perceived as a “fix” the McGovern-Fraser Commission changed the rules to put an end to the smoke-filled rooms and this prompted many states to adopt a meaningful primary system, and the modern election process was born.

So, what's the big deal in New Hampshire? Why is a state that awards only four electoral votes so important, and why does everyone from the media to the candidates, to the American public pay so much attention? There are several key reasons.

Because It's the First in The Nation

Unlike caucuses which are typically used in smaller states that cannot, or will not pay for a full-scale ballot, primaries are secret ballot elections. Voters choose their nominee in private. But not all primaries are alike.
Parties can hold votes on the same day, as they do in New Hampshire, or on different days. Primaries can be open - allowing any voter to state a party preference or closed - only allowing pre-registered party voters to participate.

New Hampshire has a mixed primary system which allows voters to register their party affiliation as late as the day before primary voting. Because they have the freedom to vote in any primary and can register so close to primary day, New Hampshire is notoriously difficult to poll accurately. This can cause some stunning upsets and send a candidate onto the following state primaries with a surge of donations and interest.

New Hampshire has secured their place as first in the nation by passing a state law requiring lawmakers to move the day to pre-empt any other state, no matter how early in the cycle. That makes it not only an important indicator of a candidate’s popularity but also a way of clearing the field. Candidates who perform poorly in New Hampshire often see their access to funds suddenly dry up.

The New Hampshire Presidential Primary Can Make or Break a Campaign

Fail in New Hampshire and you need to take a hard look at your candidacy. Some may quit after a poor showing like sitting President Lyndon Johnson did in 1968. He only beat Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy by 230 votes – a major failure for a sitting president and after having his unprecedented failure called a “major setback” by Walter Cronkite, left the race.

For other Candidates like John McCain and Hillary Clinton, The New Hampshire Presidential Primary resurrected their campaigns in 2008.

The World Watches The New Hampshire Presidential Primaries

Politics has become a blood sport in the country. America loves a horse race and the media serves it up on a silver platter. There are endless public opinion polls, interviews with the candidates and the man on the street, and the run-up to election day only gets more frenzied as it gets closer.

For political junkies, and party members the New Hampshire primary is the equivalent of opening day in baseball! It's the start of a years-long race to the finish line. It's basically HUGE.

The Media Watch New Hampshire

Because of New Hampshire's status, the media places tremendous importance of the day. The networks compete to be the first to call the race, and the media descends on cities throughout the state from Concord to Nashua, Manchester, Portsmouth and more to report. Today, with the growth of digital media has only added to the carnival-like atmosphere of New Hampshire during the primary season!

The media circus surrounding the Presidential Primaries in New Hampshire makes the state the center of the world's political focus.

Concord is The Center of New Hampshire, and The Hotel Concord is Center of Concord

At the Hotel Concord, we're proud of the role that New Hampshire and our city of Concord play in Presidential Primary and the democratic process. While you're staying with us, ask our Concierge to point out our permanent art exhibit of past presidential primaries.

We're Concord's community hotel and our location in the heart of downtown, just minutes away from the New Hampshire State House. To book a reservation, inquire about special rates, block bookings, or meeting space please give one of our team members a call at (603) 504 – 3500.
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