New Hampshire 1st District
The greatest growth in New Hampshire over the past two decades has been in the southeast and south-central parts of the state—the Seacoast and the Manchester area. Manchester was once famous for the Amoskeag Mills, the world’s largest textile mill complex. In the first half of the 20th century, it was the quintessential mill town, with a few mansions for mill owners and managers and closely packed neighborhoods of frame houses for mill workers, many of them immigrants—from Quebec, Ireland, and Greece (Manchester has America’s largest percentage of Greek-Americans). By the beginning of the 21st century, it was something quite different: a high-tech city, with big shopping malls at freeway interchanges, a spiffy new airport and downtown arena, spruced-up neighborhoods, and growth extending to the wooded suburbs all around. The Seacoast, within easy commuting distance of Massachusetts, is a collection of towns of ancient pedigree and high-tech growth. The biggest city on the coast is Portsmouth, the colonial capital of New Hampshire, with its busy naval shipyard and old seaport with well-preserved houses and a solid local economy that includes many galleries and bars.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Pease Air Force Base, shuttered in 1991, has been successfully redeveloped as the Pease International Tradeport, with office buildings and an airplane runway, resulting in the addition of more than 160 businesses and nearly 10,000 jobs in the Seacoast, as the region along the state’s 18-mile coast is known. Not far to the southwest are Stratham, where Swiss chocolate maker Lindt completed in 2007 a multimillion-dollar expansion, and Exeter, home of Phillips Exeter Academy, the elite boarding school. A quarter of New Hampshire residents claim French or French-Canadian ties; racial minorities are sparse here.
The 1st Congressional District of New Hampshire includes the Manchester area and the Seacoast from Manchester and next-door Bedford, its most affluent suburb, east to Portsmouth. It also extends north to Laconia and gentrifying Lake Winnipesaukee, studded with summer resorts and new mansions, and Ossipee in Carroll County. Politically, this is the slightly more Republican of New Hampshire’s two congressional districts. It was the destination of many people fleeing high taxes in Massachusetts. Manchester, the largest city in the state, still has more registered Democrats than Republicans—a relic of its mill town days—but usually votes Republican in general elections. Portsmouth, with its trendy coffee shops, is Democratic, as are Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire, and nearby Dover, once a mill town. Most of the smaller towns in the Seacoast and to the north have been solidly Republican, though that is changing. George W. Bush narrowly carried the district twice, but Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won it 53%-47% in 2008, despite Republican nominee John McCain’s past popularity here.