DURHAM, N.H. – This year marks the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire primary, and some potent myths and misunderstandings have grown up about the Granite State’s political process over the past century.
To begin with, New Hampshire, which prides itself on having the nation’s first primary every four years, got into the game late, after Wisconsin and Florida. When New Hampshire held its first one, it was tied for second on the calendar with Minnesota, a week behind Indiana. Since 1920, its primary has been first in the nation, and the state has fought to keep that position. State law requires that the New Hampshire primary be held at least one week before any similar contest, and the Democratic and Republican parties help enforce its spot. But it might not last: Other states are envious of New Hampshire’s role, and the parties are nervous about how much influence it has in choosing the nominees.
For now, though, these myths are as persistent as the primary.
1. New Hampshire is dominated by independent voters.
2. Endorsements matter.
3. Polls predict who will win the New Hampshire primary.
4. Voters need to see candidates multiple times before making up their minds.
5. An underdog who wins in New Hampshire can use the momentum to win the nomination.
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