The New Hampshire primary is the first Presidential primary contest held in the nation. It traditionally takes place one week after the Iowa caucuses and marks the first time voters cast ballots for individual candidates. New Hampshire will send 24 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention which will be proportionally allocated among the candidates based off the percentage of votes they received.
While the vast majority of polling locations in New Hampshire open at either 7:00 or 8:00a.m EST, three small townships cast their votes at the stroke of midnight on primary day. Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location and Millsfield, New Hampshire comprise a small fraction of the total Democratic votes that will be cast, but are able to stake the claim of being the first votes in the state. For everyone else, polls are open throughout the day and close at either 7:00 or 8:00p.m. EST.
Whoever earns the most votes is declared the winner even if the candidate didn't receive a majority of votes cast, which isn't uncommon when there are a number of candidates vying for the nomination. The Democratic National Committee proportionally allocates delegates based off the percentage of votes a candidate received.
Why the New Hampshire Primary is Important
Voters in New Hampshire are the first to cast ballots for the various Presidential candidates and a strong (or poor) showing in the state can have ramifications for the candidates. The number of delegates up for grabs in the state is not very high, but the press coverage that the results bring can really help a campaign if it did well or hurt it if a campaign did poorly.
The state has had a mixed history of picking the eventual nominee, but that hasn't stopped candidates from focusing heavily on winning there.
Who Can Participate in the New Hampshire Primary
Any New Hampshire resident who is a U.S. citizen, a resident of the state, and will be 18 years old on or before November 3, 2020 may vote in the New Hampshire primary.
If a voter is not registered to vote they can do so at their polling station on the day of the primary.
New Hampshire has a semi-closed primary, meaning voters registered to a party and undeclared voters may vote. Undeclared voters must choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot when they arrive at their polling station.
New Hampshire Primary Media Coverage
Cable news channels like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and Bloomberg air comprehensive coverage the day of the New Hampshire primary, sending reporters to talk with voters throughout the state as they head into and out of polling stations. Some channels will also conduct exit-polls to try to determine who has a likely chance of winning before the official results are announced.
Once the polls officially close, the results are reported to the state political parties and then to the press. Major networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX may interrupt regular programming to announce the winner of the primary, but most of the evenings coverage will take place on the various cable news channels.
Every candidate who participated in the caucus typically gives some type of speech to their supporters at the conclusion of the evening with the winner usually waiting to give their victory speech until all the other candidates have finished.