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What sets N.H. voters apart from other states

One year old Alistair Armstrong waits in a stroller as his father Patrick votes on January 10, 2012 in Dublin, N.H.

Steve Chiotakis: On the morning of the first primary of the season -- the all-important New Hampshire contest -- and the Republican presidential candidates are anxiously awaiting the returns, which could have an effect on the rest of the primary election season. Now New Hampshire's a mostly rural state, mostly white, mostly well-educated. And with an economy that's
doing better than most of the rest of the country.

Marketplace's John Dimsdale is with us live now. Good morning John.

John Dimsdale: Good morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So New Hampshire isn't really representative of the rest of the country, perhaps, when it comes to the economy, eh?

Dimsdale: Well, like we saw in Iowa, which had its presidential caucuses last week, New Hampshire is growing faster than the national average. Its unemployment is at 5.2 percent, one of lowest in the nation. Poverty is low. It has no income tax, no sales tax. So in that context, you'd think the candidates going after votes in New Hampshire wouldn't need to play up any financial solutions for the economy.

But Steve Duprey, who's the Republican National Committee man from New Hampshire, says there's no way candidates can ignore the economic issues.

Steve Duprey: They always talk about jobs because they realize they're not only speaking to New Hampshire voters, but nationally. But they focus more on the debt and deficit because this is such a conservative state fiscally.

Chiotakis: A state that has a lot of power, John, New Hampshire has a lot of power. Lots of candidates have dropped out if they can't perform well, right?

Dimsdale: That's right. History, geography and population give N.H. a big say in the making of a president. It's famous for one-on-one relationships with politicians. The primary voters there have an opportunity to look the candidates in the eye, get to know them much better than states that have large media markets, where most of the campaigning is on television. So New Hampshire, while it may not be representative as far as the economy goes, it does test a candidate's electability and therefore gives them some momentum going into the rest of campaign.

Chiotakis: Marketplace's John Dimsdale reporting from Washington. John, thanks.

Dimsdale: You're welcome.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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