A few days ago we attended a luncheon for the non-partisan group No Lables. One woman at the event asked Chris Christie a question that she had apparently already asked him at multiple times at various other events in the state. And the astounding thing was that Christie recognized her! She had been in contact with the candidate often enough that he could recognize her on sight! Because of the prominence of the New Hampshire primary as the first in the nation, citizens in that state get the chance to come in direct contact with candidates, often building personal relationships with them. This opportunity for face-to-face politics is coveted, and gives New Hampshire and incredible amount of power in getting to know candidates and sharing the issues of importance in that state with them.
Minnesota missed out on the chance to have this kind of influential standing in nomination politics. In 1916, Minnesota had a primary which was held on the same day as New Hampshire's. But the MN political parties saw no benefits in having their nomination contests that early and switched back to a later time and a caucus the next year. At that time, delegates were for the most part selected by party bosses. 100 years later however, nominations are driven by volunteers and activists, and the contest is covered instensly by the media. The results of a primary or caucus in an early state can make or break a candidate. Times changed, and MN was left behind in the era of the media dominated primary system. Spending time in New Hampshire makes us wonder, what could have been if Minnesota had kept its early primary? Perhaps our home state would have had a place among Iowa and New Hampshire as the most prominent states in the nomination process.
--Sydney Spreck is a St. Olaf sophomore from Stillwater, MN, majoring in Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential primary elections.