Some states, like New York, don’t hold elections on 9/11 anymore, but New Hampshire is sticking to tradition and plowing ahead with their primary today. The last states to hold primaries may want to rethink their calendar at some point (which I’ll get to in a moment) but New Hampshire has a couple of interesting races shaping up. They have two congressional districts as well as a crowded race to see who will face GOP Governor Chris Sununu. (AP)
New Hampshire, which prides itself on going first in presidential primaries, is among the stragglers for state primaries.
Just eight weeks before the general election, voters on Tuesday will pick nominees for an open Congressional seat in a sought-after swing district, a Republican challenger in the other district and a Democratic opponent for the current governor.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu faced no primary challenge as he seeks a second term, and will face either former state Sen. Molly Kelly or former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand in November.
New Hampshire famously switches political party control as frequently as most people change their socks, so you tend to get a lot of fresh faces in elected office. The governor doesn’t have any sort of assurance of victory this year. In 2016 he squeaked out a victory by just 2.3% in a race which could have been swung by the Libertarian candidate, who pulled more than 4% of the vote. He’s sitting on a 69% approval rating and polling ahead of both of his potential Democratic challengers, but the number of undecided voters in recent surveys indicates that it could still go either way.
The real action today will be in the 2nd congressional district, where Democrat Carol Shea-Porter is retiring after four terms. The Democrats have a herd of candidates looking to replace her, including Bernie Sanders’ son. The younger Sanders isn’t polling very strongly, though (and didn’t even get the endorsement of his father), so one of the more seasoned Democrats is likely to get the nomination.
The main reason I wanted to touch on New Hampshire’s primary today is the fact that it happens so late in the season. New York goes this week as well. Only three other states, Massachusettes, Delaware and Rhode Island go in September. (Louisiana doesn’t vote until November, but their system is just weird.) Given the way politics works in the modern era, doesn’t that seem a bit late? Candidates and incumbents don’t even know who they are running against until seven or eight weeks before the general election. Other states, such as Texas, hold their primaries in the spring so the voters have all summer to put the candidates through their paces.
But then again, is that really better? Given how unpleasant political campaigns have become recently, perhaps less is really more. But that’s just my cynical nature talking I suppose. It takes time to fully vet candidates and eight weeks just doesn’t seem like enough, particularly when you’ve got a crowded field of primary contenders to research. It seems like we should be able to have all the primaries wrapped up by the 4th of July, don’t you think?