Tue, January 10, 2012
World > Americas > US Presidential Election 2012

Backgrounder: Brief introduction to New Hampshire presidential primary

2012-01-10 02:49:32 GMT2012-01-10 10:49:32(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

MANCHESTER, the United States, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- A week after the Iowa caucuses, U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls will kick off their second contest and the-first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday. The following is a brief introduction to the New Hampshire primary.

For decades, the New Hampshire primary, along with the Iowa caucuses, the first-in-the-nation caucuses, has been the place for candidates to "test the water" of the presidential election and to winnow the field.

The results provide an early indication of which candidates might win the nomination of their parties at the national conventions. The earlier the primary election date of a state, the more influential the turnout of this state is.

The New Hampshire primary started in the 1910s with a reform act of the state legislature to select delegates for the national party conventions.

The New Hampshire state legislature passed a law in 1977, ruling that its primary must be the first in the country, seven days before any other "similar contest."

Originally held in early March, its date has been moved up for several times to maintain the state's political status in the presidential election driven by other states' attempt to grab the earliest primary.

Different from the Iowa caucuses that gauge support for presidential candidates through local meetings of party members, the New Hampshire primary gauges support through statewide direct voting to determine which candidates will receive the state's votes for the Republican and Democratic nominations at the two parties' national conventions respectively scheduled later in the year. The event is run by the State of New Hampshire instead of the state party committees.

On the voting day, independent voters can register and vote in either party primary, but people registered as Republican or Democrat cannot cast ballots in the primary of the other party.

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