The second stop on the path to the Presidency is the New Hampshire Primary. It is the first election in choosing a party’s nominee.
New Hampshire is similar in population to Iowa having 1,323,459 citizens but having only 7 counties compared to Iowa’s 99. Voters in their 2012 primary election totaled 248,485 voters.
Because of the outsized importance of their Primary each citizen is often quite knowledgeable on national issues and presidential candidates. In the last few days of my 2008 campaign I stopped at a remote gas station to fill up and made some comment about the election to the rather rough looking ponytailed man behind the glass. He responded “oh yes, Tom Tancredo dropped out last night”. All residents follow the campaign closely.
Residents of the Granite State also strongly support the military. Arriving in Manchester taxiing up to the hanger during my 2012 campaign, the flight attendant announced that a member of the military on board was returning home from Afghanistan. Without hesitation there was immediate spontaneous extended applause. As the state hails back to the early days of America each citizen of the Granite State grows up with a strong appreciation of the importance of the military in keeping America free.
And in the “live free or die state” of New Hampshire highway signs are posted allowing those over 18 to themselves decide whether or not they wish to wear seat belts.
High placement on a ballot in New Hampshire does not give a candidate an advantage. Because of the knowledgeability of each voter. While I was fourth on the ballot out of 30 candidates it did not help me or those near me on the ballot. Romney was 17th and won. The same ballot position in Texas would have been very significant, as the level of knowledge of each individual voter in our state of 26 million does not match that of the individual New Hampshire voter.
Many decry two small states having an outsized influence on the choosing of the nominees of each party, but the knowledge level of the average voter participating in the New Hampshire Primary and the Iowa Caucus is unsurpassed. It is not likely to be matched in any other state.
Following shortly after the New Hampshire Primary is the South Carolina Primary. Because of a required entry fee of $25,000 unknown candidates never participate. At that point there are only a few candidates remaining anyway, where except for 2012 the state has always chosen the nominee since 1980. And since each candidate at that point knows what is at stake the most pointed, direct and hard fought campaigning of the entire campaign is done there.
Nevada follows South Carolina with its Primary, and then for the first time, Texas in 2016 will be next on March 1. If the nominee has not at that point already been chosen, Texas then for the first time in decades will play a very significant role in both its Primary election and its state convention. Texans can thank state chairman Steve Munisteri for his efforts with the Republican National Committee for obtaining approval for changes, and the delegates attending the 2014 Republican State Convention for overwhelmingly approving them. On March 1, 2016 Texans could choose the nominee.