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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007, 12:48 GMT
State profile: New Hampshire
New Hampshire map
Tiny, rich, and famous for being first, New Hampshire has an importance totally out of proportion to its size in presidential elections.

State law says that New Hampshire's primary must be one week before any other and it is this, along with its historic knack for picking the eventual nominees, that gives the state its enormous political influence.

For 40 years from 1952, no-one won the presidency without first winning their party's New Hampshire primary, a run ended only when Bill Clinton came second in the Democratic primary in 1992. George W Bush also came second in 2000, but won in 2004 when there was no strong challenge from within his party.

KEY FACTS
Population: 1,314,895 (ranked 41 among states)
Governor: John Lynch (D)
Electoral College votes: 4

Because of the crucial importance of early momentum in the presidential primary system, this gives New Hampshire, with just 0.4% of the nation's population, a significance which far outweighs its size. Yet its early primary is not its only feature of interest.

Historically, New Hampshire has gone its own way and this was the first colony with an independent government.

Since the 19th Century it has shunned high taxes and government intervention, making it a magnet for entrepreneurs and investment.

IN CONGRESS
House of Representatives:
2 Democratic
Senate: 2 Republican
The state's dislike for government is reflected in its motto: "Live free or die".

New Hampshire's low taxes have made the state one of the most prosperous and its population more than doubled between 1960 and 2000.

But the exceptional growth of the 1980s meant that the 1990s recession hit particularly hard, although the state has since recovered.

VOTING RECORD
2004: Bush 49%, Kerry 50%
2000: Bush 48%, Gore 47%
1996: Clinton 49%, Dole 39%

In the eight years up to 2000, it voted Democrat but that year it gave its support to Mr Bush in the presidential election and returned two Republicans to the House of Representatives.

In 2004, the state voted for Mr Bush's Democratic challenger John Kerry, and at the 2006 mid-term elections it ousted both Republican congressmen, returning Democrats in their place.

While its two senators remain Republicans (there was no race in 2006), one of them, John Sununu, is up for re-election in 2008, and many commentators are saying that his seat will be the Democrats' most likely electoral gain in this cycle.

The state has a Democratic governor, John Lynch, and in 2006 the Democrats took both houses of the State Legislature for the first time since 1911.


Are you in New Hampshire? Will you be voting in 2008? How do you plan to vote? Send us your comments and predictions using the form below.

Your comments:

I try to vote any time I'm given the option to! I'm at this time a registered Republican but usually vote Democratic in the election. If you want to see small town, old style voting done you should come by Madbury. We still mark the ballot in pen, and slip the ballot into a wooden box, later to be counted by hand! Refreshments offered if you volunteer to count! Wish you'd mentioned NH's legislative body. It's one of the biggest in the world!
Liz, Madbury, NH

I like the message of Obama, but I respect the passion and agenda of Clinton... this election is still in the air for me.
Nathan Townsend, Amherst, NH, USA

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