For more than a century, the Granite State has officially set the nominating process in motion by hosting the nation’s first presidential primary. But how much do you know about this time-honored political tradition? Test your knowledge with this short, fun quiz.


1: What year was New Hampshire’s very first “First in the Nation” primary?  

A: 1900

B: 1916

C: 1920

D: 1924

Answer: C. New Hampshire held a primary in 1916 but it went second, behind Minnesota. In 1920, its first-in-the-nation primary tradition began. The biggest news of that primary weekend? A “paralyzing blizzard” that left eventual winner, Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, snowbound in Connecticut for 12 hours.


2. Which of the following candidates NEVER won a New Hampshire presidential primary?

A: Joe Biden

B: Bob Dole

C: Eugene McCarthy

D: All the above

Answer: D. Biden lost in 2008 to Hillary Clinton and again in 2020 to Bernie Sanders; Dole lost in 1988 to George H.W. Bush and again in 1996 to Pat Buchanan; McCarthy lost to Lyndon Johnson in 1968.


3. Who famously said he “paid for this microphone” at a GOP debate during the 1980 primary? 

A: Howard Baker

B: John Anderson

C: Ronald Reagan

D: George H.W. Bush

Answer: C. Arguably the most famous moment in New Hampshire primary history, Reagan had a breakthrough moment at a debate in Nashua. It helped propel him to victory in the state days later.


4. Which Democratic presidential candidate was described as “likable enough” by an opponent during a televised debate in New Hampshire?

A: Barack Obama

B: Hillary Clinton

C: John Edwards

D: Dennis Kucinich

Answer: B. Clinton was asked about her struggles with “likability” by a debate moderator. As Clinton struggled to answer, Barack Obama interjected, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” That backhanded compliment did not play well, and it’s believed to have contributed to Clinton’s upset win in the 2008 New Hampshire primary.


5. When Joe Biden announced he wasn’t participating in this year’s New Hampshire Democratic primary, his supporters launched a write-in effort on his behalf. Who was the last incumbent president to have a write-in campaign waged on his behalf in the N.H. primary?


A: Harry Truman

B: Richard Nixon

C: Calvin Coolidge

D: Lyndon Johnson

Answer: D. President Johnson’s name did not appear on the Democratic ballot in 1968. Although he won the primary 48-42 percent over anti-war candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, the narrow margin persuaded LBJ not to seek re-election.


6. Bill Clinton famously got the nickname “The Comeback Kid” when he finished second in the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary. Who won it?

A: Jerry Brown

B: Bob Kerrey

C: Tom Harkin

D: Paul Tsongas

Answer: D. Sen. Paul Tsongas won New Hampshire as a regional “favorite son” from neighboring Massachusetts, which he also won. He lost all four other New England states to Gov. Jerry Brown of California.