Who can vote? Any registered voter can cast a ballot, and yes, voters may register on the day of the primary. “Undeclared” voters may temporarily register with either party, vote, and drop their party affiliation before leaving. They’re a valuable block: of registered New Hampshire voters, 44% are independent.
Record turnout?Secretary of State William Gardner is predicting a record surge in Republican ballots cast. Democrats are not expected to show up to the polls in the record numbers they did eight years ago. Even so, overall turnout is expected to shatter the mark set in 2008.
When do polls open?Three precincts will open their polls as early as midnight. Hart’s Location, Millsfield, and the famous Dixville Notch (pop. 9) are small enough to open and close their polls, with 100% turnout, in a matter of minutes.
Across the rest of the state, polls in larger cities like Manchester and Nashua open at 6 a.m., though most precincts don’t open until 7 or 8 a.m.
Poll closuresBesides the quirky midnight votes, polls begin closing at 7 p.m., though in some areas voting will continue until 8 p.m.
Weather reportNew Hampshire received a few inches of snow Monday, but a mostly dry day is expected as voters head to the polls. Secretary of State Gardner says he does not expect the weather to have an impact on the primary.
How predictive is this primary, anyway?New Hampshire’s record at picking nominees is…spotty. On the Republican side, it’s a better indicator than Iowa: in the last 7 nominating contests dating back to 1976, the New Hampshire winner has gone on to win the nomination 5 times. On the Democratic side, Iowa has the edge: over the last 8 competitive contests, Iowa voters have chosen 6 eventual nominees; New Hampshirites have chosen 5.
Many would argue that the states’ most valuable role is paring down the choices, not picking a winner. But in 40 years, no Republican has secured the nomination without winning one of those two early states.
Who’s running?This isn’t a dumb question. All it takes is $1,000 and a signature to participate in the first-in-the-nation primary. 28 Democrats and 30 Republicans have taken the plunge. Names like O’Malley and Paul are still on the ballots, and could garner votes from staunch supporters. Lesser-known candidates like Vermin Supreme, a Democrat who campaigns wearing a boot on his head, are there as well. While some may be more optimistic than others, they’ll all learn their fates Tuesday night.