Primary Pandemonium vs. Caucus Craziness--New Hampshire's "Caucus Season"

Dec 23, 2015

All eyes are on Iowa in advance of the February 1st precinct caucuses, but just eight days later, the first primary in the nation takes place in New Hampshire. Though the state experiences the same frenzy of candidate attention Iowa does, candidate appearances and electorate makeup differ.

One key difference? The importance of faith background on voting.

“New Hampshire is one of the most secular states in the country, I think ranking only behind Vermont in that regard, so religious conservatism is not a huge feature politically here. There's a section of the Republican party--it's not a large one. Typically fiscal issues predominate here," says New Hampshire Public Radio senior political reporter Josh Rogers.

In comparison, the amount of evangelical voters in Iowa can tip the scales towards candidates like Mike Huckabee in 2008  or Senator Ted Cruz who is now the front runner in Iowa with 31 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers claiming him as their favorite. But that type of regional difference divides along party lines.

"If you go region by region and then divide it out by party, the Midwest does tend to be more religiously observant and religiously orthodox than the Northeast," says Bruce Nesmith, Joan and Abbott Lipsky Professor of Political Science at Coe College. "But if you divide it out by party, Midwestern Democrats are much more similar to Northeastern Democrats than they are to Southern Democrats. Midwestern Republicans are much more similar to Southern Iowans than they are to Eastern Republicans."

On this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Rogers and Barrick about how New Hampshire's campaign season stacks up to Iowa's. Dan Barrick, director of New Hampshire Public Radio's State of Democracy also joins the conversation.

“12:43—make their decisions by watching tv.”

The other wrinkle is that it’s an open primary, you can select a democratic,republican. 12:2400 It adds a real element of uncertainty about 40% of NH are undecided Josh Rogers…

45 Josh culturally disenfranchised

46:27 riding the birther wave Dan

But for the GOP frontrunner, the strategy stays the same regardless of state.

A lot of the same dynamic you described in New Hampshire is happening in Iowa. 12:48:31