Anytime anyone rocks the vote, it's a big deal. But there are certain elections, in certain states, that matter more than others. The New Hampshire primary is one of those elections. You don't have to win the New Hampshire primary to become president, but it does help. It's a little odd that such a small state can wield all that power, but it's true. The most important reason, really, is that it's one of the first primaries in the election cycle. It's become the litmus test for politicians to see how their campaign is going and how they might fare in a general election.
There's an old saying that from former New Hampshire governor that, "the people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents." In fact, it's part of their state law that they get to have the first primary a week before the rest of the nation starts to pick their candidates. It's only because Iowa technically holds a caucus, instead of a traditional election, that they get the first pick.
They actually don't even pick that many delegates in the state. It really is all about the hype and the major media attention the primary receives that makes it so important. From the very beginning, the New Hampshire primary was about creating such a scene that people would actually want to go out and vote. In 1948, Richard F. Upton, speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives worked to make the primary “more interesting and meaningful…so there would be a greater turnout at the polls," acccording to the Brookings Institute. Don't worry, it's importance confuses everyone.
Every candidate knows that what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire determine how the rest of the presidential race pans out. This is why candidates like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, and Maryland governor Martin O'Malley suspended their campaigns just after the caucuses. If you don't perform there, there's no use traveling to New Hampshire, and spending money and man power, to turn people out on the East Coast.
For the Democratic candidates, the stakes are a little lower because there are only two of them left and it's worth waiting to see how all the primaries, state by state, end up before the Democratic nominee is choses. In the crowded Republican field, it's all the more important. If candidates that are already polling low, like former Florida governor Jeb Bush or New Jersey governor Chris Christie can't pull ahead in New Hampshire, it might be a sign to finally pull the plug on the race entirely.
Whether it makes sense to you or not, New Hampshire's primary in the coming week is the one to watch. They called first dibs on picking the next president.