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Battleground state surrounded by liberal strongholds could be major fight for Dems in 2024

New Hampshire is currently embroiled in a testy dispute with the Democratic National Committee over the date of its famed first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

And the White House hopefuls from both major political parties are continuously criss-crossing the state ahead of its consequential 2024 presidential primary.  

New Hampshire has long been known in the political world for its prominent position along the road to the White House, but just as important is its status as a crucial general election battleground and the only swing state in blue-shaded New England.

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A sign outside the state capital building in Concord, New Hampshire

A sign outside the state capital building in Concord, New Hampshire, spotlights the state’s treasured position for the past century in holding the leadoff presidential primary. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

With the 2024 elections just over a year away, the state will once again see competitive contests for president, Congress and governor.

To top it off, what makes New Hampshire even more interesting is that Democrats seemingly have a lock on federal elections in the state while Republicans enjoy total control over the state’s executive offices and the legislature.

“We are organizing toward winning State House majorities and flipping the Governor’s seat, in addition to re-electing Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster to Congress and winning the White House in 2024,” New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley said in a statement.

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New Hampshire GOP chair Chris Ager is also aiming for 2024 victories, telling Fox News that “we need to have a voice in Washington that will represent more than just the left-wing Democrats of the state. I fully expect that we’ll have a Republican representative in Congress.”

“New Hampshire is a great place to live because we have a Republican House, Senate, and governor. And we want to keep it that way,” Ager said.

Democrats have carried New Hampshire in every presidential election for three decades, except for 2000, when then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush narrowly edged then-Vice President Al Gore for the state’s four electoral votes, helping Bush win the White House.

But the margins of victory have all been in the single digits.

Democrats have also won four straight Senate elections dating back to 2014, and 11 out of the last 12 House elections over the past decade.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire speaks at the Salem GOP Labor Day picnic in Salem, New Hampshire, on Sept. 4, 2023. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser )

But it’s a different story in state elections, where popular Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has won four consecutive two-year terms as governor and Republicans have captured majorities in both houses of the state legislature in four of the past five elections. They also currently control the five-member Executive Council (which acts as an elected cabinet, approving nominations and major state contracts) by a 4-1 margin.

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Asked why Democrats seem to dominate in federal elections while Republicans have the upper hand in state contests, veteran New Hampshire-based political scientist and New England College president Wayne Lesperance told Fox News, “Granite Staters are very much pragmatic voters. They very much are evaluating individuals and not so much parties.”

Lesperance also noted that while there’s “a long history of Yankee Republicans — fiscally conservative and socially moderate,” the state has been “impacted by folks moving into New Hampshire from Massachusetts,” which has altered the demographics of the electorate. 

Maggie Hassan stands in front of a campaign sign while speaking to canvassers

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan greets supporters after voting on Election Day in her hometown of Newfields, New Hampshire, on Nov. 8, 2022. (Fox News )

Purple New Hampshire is surrounded by the blue-leaning states of Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont — and is the only competitive battleground in the New England and New York/New Jersey region. Pennsylvania, at the southern end of the Northeast, is the only other swing state in the area. 

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“New Hampshire is very different that its neighboring states, and it’s been that way for a long time,” Neil Levesque told Fox News.

The longtime executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College noted that the “Live Free or Die” state has no income tax or sales tax.

“Just because we’re close in proximity to Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, we couldn’t be further way when it comes to ideology,” he emphasized.

Looking ahead to next year’s elections, both major political parties are expected to spend plenty of resources in New Hampshire on both House races and what may end up being one of the most competitive gubernatorial showdowns in the country, with Sununu deciding against seeking re-election. 

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And in the race for the White House, New Hampshire may once again prove pivotal.

As Levesque noted, “if Al Gore had won our four electoral votes, he would have been President of the United States.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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