50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 9. New Hampshire

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

9. New Hampshire

Capital: Concord

Nickname: The Granite State

Motto: Live Free or Die

About the State

Prior to the arrival of English and French explorers in the 17th century, New Hampshire was home to various Algonquian tribes.  It was the first colony in America to adopt its own constitution, doing so in January of 1776, six months before independence was declared from Great Britain.  The raid on Fort William and Mary (now named Fort Constitution), from which the Colonists obtained gunpowder and weaponry from the British, was the only battle of the Revolutionary War that took place in New Hampshire, but the state provided three regiments of troops to the Continental army.  Around 1,000 New Hampshire men also fought for the Union forces in the Civil War, nearly half  of whom lost their lives.

New Hampshire’s main industry, until around the middle of the 20th century, was textiles, manufacturing and shoemaking.  In the last 50 years, these have been replaced by high-tech companies and the electronic defense contractor, Sanders Associates, which moved to the state in 1952.  A large part of New Hampshire’s economy now relies upon its proximity to the Boston Metropolitan area, with improved highways making the distance possible for people to commute.

One thing that New Hampshire is most famous for is its tradition of holding one of the first to hold a primary for both Republicans and Democrats to select their nominee for President of the United States.  Every four years, the state receives a lot of media attention and candidates on both sides place high importance on succeeding their, knowing that they can gain momentum with an early victory.

Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, hailed from New Hampshire; as did the first American in space, Alan Shepherd.  The state – which ranks 46th in area and 42nd in population in the USA – was the first to have a free public library (in 1833) and a resident of Concord, Levi Hutchins, invented the alarm clock in 1787.  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was also the location of the signing of a treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese war in 1905.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 4

2008 Result: Obama 54.3% McCain 44.8%

Latest Poll: Obama +7%

New Hampshire is considered to be a swing state: between 1968 and 1988, it voted for the Republican candidate in all six elections; Presidents Clinton and Bush won there in their successful campaigns of 1992, 1996 and 2000; since then the Democrats have won three straight times.  Mitt Romney does not necessarily need to win New Hampshire to take the Presidency, but losing it would mean he would have to all but sweep the swing states.  Being on the East coast, it will be one of the earliest states to declare on November 6th and a victory there for the President, combined with him taking any one of Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina or Florida, will mean he is very close to securing a second term.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There are no Senate elections in New Hampshire this year.  The state has 2 Representatives in the House, both of whom are  Republican and face the same opponents this time as they did in 2010.  In the last election, the 1st district was won by Frank Guinta (R), who beat two-term incumbent Carol Shea-Porter (D) by more than 26,000 votes – but Shea-Porter is expected to win back the seat this time around.  In the 2nd district, Charlie Bass (R) won his fifth term (non-consecutive) against Ann McLane Kuster (D) and the two square off again this November, in a race that is considered to be a toss-up.

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