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Primary Election Season: New Hampshire in Depth

SUNDAY, FEB 09, 2020

As the presidential primary season continues after the Iowa Caucus, New Hampshire will host the first Primary Election on Tuesday, February 11th. New Hampshire has had the first Primary Election ever since state law made it so 100 years ago.

This Social Explorer analysis uses data from the 1920 Census, the 2014-2018 American Community Survey and 2008 and 2016 Presidential Election results to examine demographics and trends in the Granite State.

Small but Mighty:

According to the 2014-2018 American Community Survey (ACS), New Hampshire has 1,343,622 people living in the state, approximately 0.42 percent of the nation’s population. Back in 1920 when New Hampshire first made itself the first Primary Election, the state’s population was also 0.42 percent of the nation’s total (443,083 of the total US population 105,710,620).

The following map shows the population distribution in New Hampshire at the census tract level from the most recently released ACS data. Zoom in and click around to see where the population is concentrated, such as the southern parts of the state near Maine and Massachusetts.

Election History:

While New Hampshire is a major focus for presidential campaigns in the Primary Election season, when it comes time for the General Election, the state contributes just four electoral votes of the 538 at stake—two fewer than Iowa.

The following Social Explorer maps based on data from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections show the trends in Iowa for the General Election in 2008 and 2016.

In 2008, New Hampshire voters favored Obama over McCain by nearly 10 percentage points (54.1 percent to 44.5 percent). In 2016, Clinton beat Trump in New Hampshire, but by less than half a percentage point (46.8 percent to 46.5 percent). Explore the maps to see county-by-county election results and examine where the largest shifts happened.

State Demographics:

Using the American Community Survey, we can get a closer look at New Hampshire’s population.

  • At 93 percent white, New Hampshire is 20.2 percent whiter than the entire US, and also 2.7 percent whiter than Iowa.
  • The state is 1.5 percent black or African-American, just over one ninth the rate for the entire US (12.7 percent), and less than half the rate for Iowa (3.5 percent).
  • New Hampshire’s Hispanic population is 3.6 percent, just one fifth that for the country as a whole (17.8 percent) and a little over half the rate for Iowa (5.9 percent).
  • The state’s median age of 42.7 years old is 4.8 years older than the national median (37.9 years old).
  • Median income in Iowa is 22.8 percent higher than the national median ($74,057 vs. 60,293).
  • Looking at the population over 25 years old, New Hampshire has both more high school graduates (92.9 percent to 87.7 percent) and more college graduates (36.5 percent to 31.5 percent) than the nation as a whole.


While best known every four years for the Presidential Primary, New Hampshire earned its nickname as the "Granite State" for its history of mining. According to the 2014-18 ACS, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, and Mining industries (which are combined in the Census Bureau's occupation data) make up just 0.8 percent of industries for the employed civilian population, which is less than that for the whole US (1.8 percent).

According to Census Bureau’s 2017 County Business Pattern data from Social Explorer, New Hampshire has 47 establishments in the area of Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction. These businesses employ 243 people combined. An additional seven establishments employing 34 people operate in Support Activities for Mining.

Like many New England states that reach the coast, New Hampshire also has a long history of manufacturing. According to the 2014-2018 ACS, Manufacturing is the state's third-largest industry, employing 12.4 percent of the civilian workforce (2.2 percent higher than the 10.2 percent in the industry nationwide).

Detailed information on manufacturing is available from the 1920 Census—from the same year that New Hampshire asserted itself as the first Primary Election state. Back then, the state had 1,499 manufacturing establishments, with an output of $4,477,375,701 (in 2018 inflation-adjusted dollars) and employing 83,074 people.

According to the Census Bureau's 2017 County Business Patterns data, New Hampshire now has 1,787 manufacturing establishments employing 70,366 people. While the state’s population has more than tripled, the number of people employed in manufacturing has declined by 15.3 percent.

Explore the detailed County Business Pattern data maps and reports to learn more about different types of manufacturing from electrical equipment to apparel to machinery and more.

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