New Hampshire: Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

New Hampshire's constitution, adopted in 1784, is the second oldest in the country. New Hampshire is the only state in which amendments to the constitution must be proposed by convention; once every seven years a popular vote determines the necessity for constitutional revision. The state's executive branch is headed by a governor and five powerful administrative officers called councillors. The governor is elected for a two-year term and is traditionally limited to two successive terms. Perhaps the most unusual feature of New Hampshire politics is the size of its bicameral legislature (General Court), one of the largest representative bodies in the English-speaking world, with 24 senators and 400 representatives, all elected for two years. The state elects two senators and two representatives to the U.S. Congress and has four electoral votes.

The New Hampshire presidential primary is among the first to be held in election years and has often forecast national trends or influenced election outcomes. The primary is itself a major New Hampshire “industry.” Republicans played the dominant role in New Hampshire politics for more than a century after the Civil War, but Democerats have fared better since the 1980s in winning the governorship. It is now considered a swing state, with the state legislature flipping back and forth between the two parties' control.

Among the state's institutions of higher learning are the Univ. of New Hampshire, at Durham; Keene State Univ.; Dartmouth College, at Hanover; and Franklin Pierce College, at Rindge.

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