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Photographer's Note

This shot was taken outside the New Hampshire State Library, just across the street from the New Hampshire State House, which I pictured here yesterday. This odd brick and tile path here represents New Hampshire's most well known tradition, the New Hampshire Primary.

To elect a United States President is not a simple task. The process involves many steps, the first of which is the primary system. Each of the major parties generally puts up several candidates for the office; in order to choose the nominee, parties used to simply hold conventions with party leaders to decide who should run. However, in the middle of the 20th century, that system began to change, with the decision going increasingly to party members among the citizenry of individual states. Voters in each state would go to the polls to choose between the various Republicans, or the various Democrats, in order to select the nominee; the winner of each primary election gets delegates pledged to them, and each party sets its own rules to decide how many delegate a candidate needs in order to become the nominee. Only once the nominees are chosen does the Presidential race become a two person contest.

New Hampshire, for reasons that escape most political observers, has long held the place of first primary in the nation. Despite its rather small size and highly unrepresentative population, New Hampshire holds quite a bit of power in the nomination process, as early states are much more likely to provide momentum to one candidate or another. It is a fairly ridiculous system in many ways, but as a New Hampshire resident about it and they will likely defend it with gusto.

What this path represents is each winner of the New Hampshire primaries (though for whatever reason Governor Mitt Romney, the most recent winner, is not yet represented). The most recent entry here is Hillary Clinton, who beat Barack Obama in New Hampshire in 2008. Obviously Obama went on to win both the nomination and the election, but more often than not, the winner of the New Hampshire primary goes on to win their party's nomination. John McCain, for example, won New Hampshire in 2008, which helped launch his campaign toward the nomination.

Confused yet? If so, just be thankful I didn't try to explain either the caucus system or the electoral college. It's kind of a wonder this country can manage to get out of bed in the morning sometimes.

Larger version, in which the plaque and more of the tiles are readable, is here.

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Additional Photos by Andrew Lipsett (ACL1978) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 884 W: 75 N: 1695] (7511)
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