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New Hampshire Prepares for the Primaries

Fadden’s General Store has been continuously operated by the Fadden Family, in Woodstock, NH, since 1896.

Fadden’s General Store is a frequent stop for presidential candidates.

In presidential election years, the state of New Hampshire always holds the first primary election in the country. This "first-in-the-nation" tradition began in 1916. This year, New Hampshire voters will go to the polls on February 9.

Voters in "The Granite State," as New Hampshire is nicknamed, take their responsibility very seriously. For months, people have been gathering at local diners, schools, and town halls to meet candidates from both parties.

"The best part about elections in a small state is that the candidates go to events, town meetings, and meet-and-greets," says James Fadden, the owner of Fadden's General Store in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Fadden is proud of the fact that he has met many presidential candidates over the years.

John Koziol, a correspondent for the Union Leader, agrees that the state's voters have a unique advantage. “New Hampshire voters have the opportunity—sometimes several—to see the candidates up close and to ask them direct, and often tough, questions," he says. "I think voters cherish that ability to vet the candidates.”

Fadden and Kaitlin look at photos of candidates who have visited the store.


The presidential candidates do their best to appeal to New Hampshire voters. Campaigning in the state offers the candidates their first chance to connect with voters and gain momentum. As New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, says: “Winning the New Hampshire Primary isn’t easy, but if a candidate wins, it often demonstrates to the country that that person has what it takes to run in the general election. One of the great things about the New Hampshire Primary is that it gives candidates with less money and less name recognition a chance.”

Voters in Iowa, a state that also gets a lot of attention, will hold caucuses on February 1. (In a primary election, voters cast secret ballots. In a caucus, voters gather at local meeting places to decide which candidates to support.) The results of the primaries and caucuses around the country, which will continue through June, will help determine which Republican and Democratic candidates face off in the presidential election on November 8.

Shaheen believes that all Americans, not just those who can vote, should pay attention to the campaign. "Young people are the future leaders of our nation," she says. "The more young people get involved, the better it is for our democracy."   

Photos courtesy of the author