A Quick Look at Why Massachusetts Continues to Be Involved in NH Politics

Maybe it’s because New Hampshire has the coveted First in the Nation presidential primary, or maybe it’s because the Granite State and its southern neighbor were once united under the same government, but for whatever reason, Massachusetts loves to to meddle in New Hampshire politics.

Just take this week for example. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came to the Granite State on Saturday to campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Gov. Maggie Hassan in her close Senate race against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

“First, I want to say thanks to New Hampshire voters for sending us Jeanne Shaheen in the Senate,” Warren said at a rally at the University of New Hampshire. “And thanks for being the state who will send Maggie Hassan to Washington and who will elect Hillary Clinton. I am here for Carol, Maggie and Hillary, three tough, smart women who will fight every day to build a future for all Americans. Now we need all of you.”

Even Boston Mayor Martin Walsh held a rally in downtown Faneuil Hall on Wednesday encouraging Massachusettsians to cross the border to stop Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from winning New Hampshire’s crucial four electoral votes.

“We have a huge opportunity to make a big impact up in New Hampshire,’’ Walsh told the crowd. “But I’m going to need you. We are going to need to make an impact. We’re going to [expect] you to take a trip to New Hampshire every weekend.”

It’s not just the Democrats that are taking advantage of the traditionally blue state to the south to rally voters. The Harvard University Republican Club took the trip to campaign for Ayotte.

But why do Bay Staters feel the need to contribute, canvass and campaign in a state where they don’t reside? They might be able to help in the presidential race to ensure their candidate’s victory since New Hampshire is often seen as a swing state, but in down-ballot races, they aren’t the constituents of the politicians running for office.

“We always believe that Congressional races are incredibly important, but this year especially in the choices we are getting for president, no matter who wins, we hope there is a Republican Congress who can have a check on their executive powers. We believe that control of the Senate might hinge on Sen. Ayotte’s seat,” said Declan Garvey, president of the Harvard GOP.

While Massachusetts does have heated elections sometimes (anyone remember that huge Warren-Scott Brown race in 2012?), they’re not at the same rate of competitiveness as New Hampshire races.

“Normally, we are the only game in town, especially in a general election, because typically Massachusetts elections are one-sided with the occasional competitive race,” said Dante Scala, professor of political science at UNH.

 

MASSACHUSETTS DIASPORA CONTINUES TO IMPACT NH POLITICS

Some Massachusettsians are not just coming up to New Hampshire to stump in an election. Many have decided to move to the Granite State, whether it’s for the cheap alcohol, no sales or income tax, no motorcycle helmet laws or no ban on fireworks, and it’s impacting the state’s political leaning.

In 2012, about 25 percent of New Hampshire residents were born in Massachusetts. A common criticism from some Republicans is that their state has been invaded by the liberals from the south who are now residing here.

It turns out, though, that the Massachusetts diaspora might be responsible for keeping the state purple and not solid blue. The Democratic trend of the Northeast has accelerated in the past 25 years, but Barack Obama has done better in the rural counties bordering Vermont than the ones bordering Massachusetts.

Rockingham County, which borders Massachusetts and Maine, continues to be the Republican’s stronghold in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney won it in 2012, and it was Scott Brown’s best county in his 2014 U.S. Senate bid. Also, about two-thirds of the population in the county is from out-of-state, probably people from Massachusetts who work for high-skill technology firms and other professional service industries that bring independent, rather than staunchly liberal, voters to the area.

If Trump wants to win the state, he will have to perform extremely well in Rockingham County in towns close to the Massachusetts border and appeal to people who fled “Taxachusetts.”

 

COLONIAL HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS MASSACHUSETTS-NEW HAMPSHIRE SHARED POLITICS

While New Hampshire and Massachusetts share similar politics and residents, perhaps the reason why Bay Staters continue to get involved in Granite State politics is a historical one.

A fact that many people forget is that the two states used to share the same government during its early colonial days.

New Hampshire was settled in the 1620s, but the territory formed a coalition with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641. Massachusetts governed the New Hampshire settlements until 1680, when it became the royally chartered Province of New Hampshire.

Then, there was a period when the normal government was suspended in 1690 after the Glorious Revolution in England when the two territories were reunited. Just two years later, a new governor took control of New Hampshire, effectively separating them from Massachusetts control.

But then in 1699, the governorships of New Hampshire and Massachusetts were once again shared.

Boundary disputes between the two colonies prompted King George II to separate the two governments once and for all in 1741. New Hampshire and Massachusetts have not shared a government since then, but the history of the colonies does shed some light on the close relationship the two governments have shared and why they continue to be involved in each other’s politics.

The Harvard GOP plans to come up to New Hampshire a few more times before the general election in November to campaign for Ayotte. Perhaps Sen. Warren will make another trip up to campaign again for Clinton and Hassan.

Either way, Granite Staters are very likely to see more Massachusettsians be involved in their state’s politics during this election cycle.

Author: Kyle Plantz

Kyle Plantz is a reporter with NH Journal.

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