Monday, April 10, 2006

The First Presidential Primary - Why New Hampshire?

The First Presidential Primary - Why New Hampshire? So, why does New Hampshire get to hold the first primary of the Presidential election cycle every four years? The author of this essay (Hugh Gregg) has some biased answers.

He notes tradition ("Since 1952, we've balloted directly for the presidential candidate of our choice") and egalitarianism ("It takes millions of dollars to run for the presidency elsewhere, but not up here.")

These are good reasons. Tradition should count some. And the egalitarianism allowed by small state campaigning could in theory allow for a political long shot to actually win the presidency with a surprise win that builds momentum and cash.

However, I am less enamored with the self-serving note that author makes on the desire of other states to hold the first presidential primary. Gregg wrote, "Jealous of the infallibility of our state's track record, now everyone wants to muscle in on our first-in-the-nation primary. Big states California and New York have moved their primaries up closest. Even smaller states like Delaware are licking their chops for a bite of the pie. For them, peace in presidential politics is spelled piece."

There are good reasons for allowing New Hampshire to have the first primary. But there are good reasons for letting other states have this role too. Perhaps there could be some rotating of which state gets to go first? Maybe the five smallest states could share the honor and rotate the first presidential primary every four years over a twenty year cycle? New Hampshire voters are more liberal than national voters so should they always get the first say? How about letting the Alaskan voters (more conservative yet with a strong libertarian streak) have a first go at this? And then North Dakota, and four years after that maybe Wyoming...

I doubt anything changes though. Unless there is Federal legislation to change presidential primary rules, the people of New Hampshire are going to always have an inordinate say as to who the President of the United State will be.

1 comment:

Jennie W said...

I like your idea...the national government really should listen to people like us more. Maybe because I've voted in both Alaska and North Dakota. It is also true that these small population states often get overlooked on the campaign trail and by having the first primary it would get them some time with the candidates. Plus you are right - NH is very liberal and democrat, while AK and ND are republican bastions. It would be nice to see candidates pay more attention to the smaller states.