"The First Primary" by David Moore and Andrew Smith

An expert look at how NH has shaped presidential elections over the last century

These two know their stuff  — between them, David Moore and Andrew Smith have 40 years of experience examining every facet of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.  Moore — who founded the UNH Survey Center and was senior editor of the Gallup poll — and Smith — director of the Survey Center since 1999 — this year combined their considerable expertise and produced “The First Primary” [University of New Hampshire Press, $29.95; Ebook, $19.99], a look at New Hampshire’s outsize role in presidential nominations.

It traces the history of the primary over the last century, detailing how it transferred political power from the pols to the people. It explains how the state managed to keep its number 1 spot, citing “northern climate, historical accident, political friendship, tactics bordering on extortion and manipulation — with simple stubbornness thrown in.” It explores the many myths about the primary and debunks them. (You’ve heard how NH people don’t vote for a candidate unless they’ve met them twice. Wrong. Only about 12 percent of people actually shake hands with a candidate.)

The book is everything you want to know about the primary and (probably for the average reader) more.

It’s a valuable record for historians, likely a bible for presidential campaign managers and, for veteran reporters like me, a great trip down memory lane.

Categories: Book Reviews