New Hampshire 2nd District
Political reporters covering New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary usually stay in Manchester, the state’s largest city and within an hour’s drive of the rest of the state except for the North Country. Yet there are other noteworthy cities and towns in New Hampshire. Concord, north of Manchester, is the state capital. On one side of Main Street is the handsome, small, granite Capitol, and on the other you can usually find the headquarters of the two political parties and many candidates: an entire state’s politics within 100 yards. Nashua, south of Manchester and on the Massachusetts line, is the state’s second-largest city, a high-technology and financial services center that has been booming for two decades. To the east is prosperous and growing Salem, first chartered in 1750 and the largest of the border suburbs. To the west of Nashua, past the pleasant country around Mount Monadnock, is Keene, the hub of southwest New Hampshire. To the north are the towns along the Connecticut River; some are mill towns, and some are vacation home enclaves. New Hampshire’s prosperity has spread to most of these, just across the river from Vermont. Hanover, home of Dartmouth College, is a tiny, picturesque town set in the mountains. And every political reporter’s itinerary has to include a trip, usually by plane, to the little lumber mill city of Berlin in the middle of the North Country (although the paper mills have cut many jobs), and perhaps also to Dixville Notch in the White Mountains, where the town’s roughly two dozen voters cast their ballots at a minute past midnight and provide the first reported returns in every presidential election. (Hint for doing election analysis: If Dixville Notch doesn’t go heavily Republican, the Republicans are in trouble.)
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of New Hampshire includes Concord, Nashua, Salem, Keene, the Connecticut River counties, Hanover, Berlin, and Dixville Notch. It also includes Mount Washington, with its spectacularly violent weather and winds that have measured up to 231 miles per hour. Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs have been exploring the possibility of wind-power parks in the North Country. The district also takes in the Bretton Woods resort, where the world monetary system was established at a conference in 1944. Politically, this region is mixed, but much of it has been trending Democratic. Nashua is more Democratic than Manchester, Salem more Republican. The area between Mount Monadnock and Keene and the territory running north along the Connecticut River to Hanover and Dartmouth has become very Democratic, much like Vermont across the river. Overall, this is the more Democratic of New Hampshire’s two congressional districts. Republican George W. Bush twice lost this district with 47% of the vote. In 2008, GOP nominee John McCain lost by a more decisive 56%-43%.