The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are the only official parties. A plurality of voters are registered as undeclared, and can choose either ballot in the primary and then regain their undeclared status after voting. The Libertarian Party had official party status from 1990 to 1994.
New Hampshire primary
Saint Anselm College has held several national debates on campus.
New Hampshire is internationally famous for the New Hampshire primary, the first primary in the quadrennial American presidential election cycle. State law requires that the Secretary of State schedule this election at least one week before any “similar event.” However, the Iowa caucus has preceded the New Hampshire primary. This primary, as the nation’s first contest that uses the same procedure as the general election, draws more attention than those in other states, and has often been decisive in shaping the national contest.
State law permits a town with fewer than 100 residents to open its polls at midnight, and close when all registered citizens have cast their ballots. As such, the communities of Dixville Notch in Coos County and Hart’s Location in Carroll County, among others, have chosen to implement these provisions. Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location are traditionally the first places in both New Hampshire and the U.S. to vote in presidential primaries and elections.
Nominations for all other partisan offices are decided in a separate primary election. In Presidential election cycles, this is the second primary election held in New Hampshire.
Saint Anselm College in Goffstown has become a popular campaign spot for politicians as well as several national presidential debates because of its proximity to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
In the past, New Hampshire has often voted Republican. Between 1856 and 1988, New Hampshire cast its electoral votes for the Democratic presidential ticket six times: Woodrow Wilson (twice), Franklin D. Roosevelt (three times), and Lyndon B. Johnson (once).
Beginning in 1992, New Hampshire became a swing state in both national and local elections. The state supported Democrats Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It was the only state in the country to switch from supporting Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 election to supporting his Democratic challenger in the 2004 election, when John Kerry, a senator from neighboring Massachusetts, won the state.
The Democrats dominated elections in New Hampshire as they did nationally in 2006 and 2008. In 2006, Democrats won both congressional seats (electing Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st district and Paul Hodes in the 2nd district), re-elected Governor John Lynch, and gained a majority on the Executive Council and in both houses of the legislature for the first time since 1911. Democrats had not held both the legislature and the governorship since 1874. Neither U.S. Senate seat was up for a vote in 2006. In 2008, Democrats retained their majorities, governorship, and Congressional seats; and former governor Jeanne Shaheen defeated incumbent Republican John E. Sununu for the U.S. Senate in a rematch of the 2002 contest.
The 2008 elections resulted in women holding a majority, 13 of the 24 seats, in the New Hampshire Senate, a first for any legislative body in the United States.
In the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans made historic gains in New Hampshire, capturing veto-proof majorities in the state legislature, taking all five seats in the Executive Council, electing a new U.S. senator, Kelly Ayotte, winning both U.S. House seats, and reducing the margin of victory of incumbent Governor John Lynch compared to his 2006 and 2008 landslide wins.
In the 2012 state legislative elections, Democrats took back the New Hampshire House of Representatives and narrowed the Republican majority in the New Hampshire Senate to 13-11. In 2012, New Hampshire became the first state in U.S. history to elect an all-female federal delegation: Democratic Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter of Congressional District 1 and Ann McLane Kuster of Congressional District 2 will accompany U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte in 2013. Further, the state elected its second female governor: Democrat Maggie Hassan.
Free State Project
The Free State Project seeks to entice 20,000 individuals with libertarian-leaning views to move to New Hampshire with the intent of reducing the size and scope of government at the local, state and federal levels through active participation in the political process. The Free State Project holds the annual New Hampshire Liberty Forum and the annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, also known as PorcFest.