It’s one of Gov. Chris Sununu’s favorite talking points, and now he has the bragging rights to enjoy during his final year in office. New Hampshire has once again been named the best state for taxpayer return on investment (ROI).

It’s the ninth consecutive time the Granite State has taken top honors in the analysis conducted by economists and data analysts for

Like the other top ratings New Hampshire currently holds, it’s a reminder that Sununu is going to be a tough act to follow. That’s particularly true for the two Democrats, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, who have to explain why it’s “time for a change” when the state and its economy are already performing so well.

“Once again, New Hampshire sets the gold standard for efficient government,” Sununu said after the ROI ratings were released. “This ranking is something all Granite Staters should be proud of, and it proves that with low taxes, limited and accountable government, and local control, New Hampshire far and away has the most efficient government in the country.”

WalletHub’s expert panel reviewed 30 sets of data points measuring the cost and quality of state-government services across five categories: education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure/pollution. Another key data point: taxation.

New Hampshire taxpayers had the lowest per capita tax burden, the analysis found, while simultaneously enjoying the sixth-highest quality of government services. No other state ranked in the top 10 for both the lowest tax burden and highest quality of government.

“We’ve cut taxes again and again, practiced fiscal responsibility, and returned millions to cities and towns,” Sununu said. “The New Hampshire model works!”

Speaker of the House Sherm Packard (R- Londonderry) says the GOP legislature plays a role in those successes, too.

“Thanks to strong leadership under New Hampshire Republicans, the Granite State was ranked #1 in Taxpayer ROI. We did this by lowering taxes without creating new taxes, eliminating the Interest and Dividends tax, making our state truly tax-free, cutting unnecessary restrictions in licensing, and delivering a balanced budget.”

Greg Moore, New Hampshire state director of Americans for Prosperity, says the state’s culture also plays a role.

“Good policy leads to great results,” Moore says, “but it’s not an accident that a lack of a major permanent political class is precisely why you see this type of ranking.”

New Hampshire currently holds the top spot on several lists, including the best state for overall freedom, economic freedom, child well-being, and the lowest poverty rate. It’s a list Sununu happily rolled through during his State of the State address in February.

“But we cannot take these successes for granted,” Sununu said in that speech. “Continued success is not inevitable; we must constantly challenge ourselves to put individuals before the system, strive to be even better stewards of your taxpayer dollars, and more accountable to the people of this state.”

And that’s the challenge the rankings pose for the candidates who want to replace Sununu. In a state with an unemployment rate of just 2.6 percent and one of the best economies in the country, how do Democrats like Craig and Warmington campaign against the GOP status quo?

Both candidates did not comment on questions from NHJournal regarding the new ROI ranking or any specific policy proposals they might have. The answers aren’t on their campaign websites, either. Neither Democrat has an “issues” page or any postings addressing policy on their campaign sites.

Republican Kelly Ayotte, on the other hand, has an “issues” page that addresses 11 subjects, from border security to energy costs to the Second Amendment.

“Under Gov. Sununu’s leadership, New Hampshire is a beacon of economic freedom thanks to lower taxes and consistent fiscal responsibility,” Ayotte said of the latest ranking. “As governor, I’ll protect our New Hampshire Advantage and ensure Granite Staters’ hard-earned money continues to yield the best return on investment in America.”

And while her Republican competitor Chuck Morse doesn’t have an “issues” page, he has posted a dozen or so statements on his website addressing topics from the campaign trail, including immigration, antisemitism at the University of New Hampshire, and the failed attempt to remove Donald Trump from the GOP ballot.

“New Hampshire’s repeated ranking as the state with the best ROI for taxpayers isn’t by luck or accident, it’s the result of electing conservatives who treat our state budgets with the level of respect one would their own households,” Morse said.

Both Democrats have been very outspoken on the issues of abortion (they oppose any limits at any time during pregnancy) and Education Freedom Accounts (they would both end the program entirely). But on the economy, specifics have been sparse.

“Between Joe Biden and Chris [Sununu], the economy isn’t the issue to campaign on,” one New Hampshire Democrat told NHJournal on background. “Reproductive freedom is a winner. Attacking Trump is a winner. They are both smart. They know what they’re doing.”

The Ayotte campaign isn’t letting her Democratic opponents off the hook on the economy.

“Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington have never seen a tax they didn’t like. They’d ignore our state’s economic success under Gov. Sununu and bring Taxachusetts’ policies to Concord,” said campaign spokesman John Corbett. “As governor, Kelly Ayotte will never let them MASS up New Hampshire, and she will always protect our economic advantage for future generations.”