New Hampshire Is Not As Vital To The Election As You Think

Manchester, N.H., 5th Feb 2015: Bernie Sanders said leadership is about at the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Celebration. (Photo by: Emilio Doménech/BUNS)
Written by Michael Sol Warren

By Michael Sol Warren
BU News Service

Today, the good people of New Hampshire will head to the polls. Americans across the country will huddle around various screens to watch the votes be counted. And tomorrow, we’ll declare the next president of the United States, right?

Not quite.

In the grand scheme of things, the New Hampshire primary, just like the Iowa caucus, is not that important. Being first does not always mean being best, and this is especially true in primary elections.

Here’s a quick recap of how primary season works: first, a bunch of candidates in each party declare. Then, each state and territory holds an election. The results of these elections determine how many pledged delegates each candidate gets at his or her respective party convention. If a candidate has the most delegates in the party, they win that party’s nomination for president. Then, we do the thing over again, but for real.

As you might have guessed, each state is worth a different amount of delegates based on population. Across all the states and territories, there are 2,472 total delegates available for the GOP and 4,763 for the Democratic party. A candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination, and 2,382 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Think about these numbers, and then think about whats really at stake in New Hampshire: 20 pledged delegates for the Republicans and 24 pledged delegates for Democrats. Today’s election is hardly for all the marbles.

On top of that, the results of New Hampshire’s primary hardly reflect the nation as a whole. According to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau, about 92 percent of people in New Hampshire are non-Hispanic white. This is compared to about 64 percent in the total U.S. population. Furthermore, New Hampshire’s median household income is $64,916, well above the national average of $53,046.

New Hampshire is not only a small sample size; the state is also arguably an outlier.

Which is why you may not be surprised to learn that New Hampshire is not exactly a crystal ball, a magic state that predicts who the eventual nominees will be. Hillary Clinton won the state in 2008; Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee that year. John McCain beat George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary; Bush would go on to become president. In 1992 Paul Tsongas didn’t just beat Bill Clinton, he smacked him. As we all know, Billy got the last laugh that election.

So yes, please go vote. Please pay attention to what happens in the Granite State. Both the Democratic and Republican races are close and the delegates awarded in New Hampshire today could very well determine who the nominees in the general election will be. But temper the heat on your takes, and remember that we have 48 states left to go before primary season is over.

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