THE FIRST PRIMARY: New Hampshire’s Outsize Role in Presidential Nominations

Since 1952, the primary election in a small, not very diverse New England state has had a disproportionate impact on the U.S. presidential nomination process and the ensuing general election. Although just a handful of delegates are at stake, the New Hampshire primary has become a massive media event and a reasonably reliable predictor of a campaign’s ultimate success or failure.

In The First Primary, Moore and Smith offer a comprehensive history of the state’s primary, an analysis of its media coverage and impact, and a description of the New Hampshire electorate, along with a discussion of how that electorate reflects or diverges from national opinions on candidates and issues. A book for political scientists and political junkies, media and policy professionals, and all students of American government, The First Primary ably fills the gaps in our understanding of New Hampshire’s outsize role in the nomination process.


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  • “The book is everything you want to know about the primary .... It’s a valuable record for historians, likely a bible for presidential campaign managers and ... a great trip down memory lane.”

    New Hampshire Magazine
  • "People interested in politics should read this book. Candidates and their advisors and campaign staff should definitely read it.”

    Voice of Reason, The Journal of Americans for Religious Liberty
  • “[J]ust about perfect.”

  • “No short review can do full justice to the extent of the writers’ contribution to explaining New Hampshire’s “outsized role” in presidential nominations, most particularly in recounting their analysis of myths about the primary.”

    Historical New Hampshire