New Hampshire faces primary competition

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(Host) New Hampshire has not yet set a date for its first-in-the-nation Presidential primary, because other states are trying to move their own primaries earlier into the 2008 election season. And New Hampshire wants to preserve its tradition of going first, no matter how early that might have to be.

Linda Fowler teaches political science at Dartmouth College, and she says New Hampshire is facing growing competition for early primaries, especially from big states.

(Fowler) “And I’ve always felt that we were living on borrowed time here in New Hampshire, in part because the whole front-loading schedule is so different than it was, even in 96. Increasingly candidates are having to compete nationally, sort of simultaneously. That’s just making it more and more chaotic.”

(Host) Fowler says the value of the New Hampshire primary goes beyond the sorting out process in which non-competitive contenders are weeded out of the Presidential pack.

(Fowler) “My own view of the value of the New Hampshire primary is that we’ve done it for a long time, now, and the voters are very attentive, the electorate is a fairly centrist one with a large block of independents. And we’re probably more representative of the country in that way, because we have such a high turnout that you cannot have the primary captured by a small group of ideological extremists.”

(Host) Dartmouth political scientist Linda Fowler says it’s the independent voters in New Hampshire that make the state a good mirror for the national Presidential campaign.

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