Dixville Notch: First ballots in New Hampshire are cast

Dixville Notch in the state’s northern tip, nearby Millsfield, and Hart’s Location, further south and tucked in the White Mountains, are the first places to declare primary results because voters cast ballots so early.

In a surprising twist, Bloomberg, who isn’t on the ballot in New Hampshire, won the first votes of Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries as a write-in candidate in the township of Dixville Notch.

Five voters in Dixville Notch showed up to make their selection at midnight. Two Democrats voted for Bloomberg, one for Buttigieg and one for Sanders. The sole Republican voter also wrote in Bloomberg.

Bloomberg did not file for the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, following a plan to skip contests in early states and instead compete starting on March 3, or Super Tuesday. A new Quinnipiac national poll on Monday found Bloomberg with 15% support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters, a seven-point jump from his standing in January.

President Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, led the night in the Republican primary with 15 votes total, followed by four votes for former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and one vote for Mary Maxwell.

Tiny Dixville Notch holds a special place in many observers’ hearts. The midnight voting tradition dates back to 1960, though it nearly didn’t happen this year because the town’s selectman had moved away — meaning there was no one available to help administer the election. Since then, the position was filled and the tradition will continue for another cycle.

The reporters and observers who trekked up to the polling location on Monday night likely outnumbered the actual residents of Dixville Notch. There were only 12 residents of the township as of the 2010 census.

Voters there have correctly predicted the eventual winner of three of the last five general elections.

It’s less predictive with primary returns: In 2016, Sanders, who went on to win the state by 22 percentage points, was the choice for 100% (or four, in total) of the voters who cast ballots in the Democratic contest. But it was former Ohio Gov. John Kasich who edged out Donald Trump, 3 to 2, in the Republican race. Trump, though, was resilient. He won the state’s GOP primary by about 20 percentage points.

But as its population has dwindled over the years, the simple fact that Dixville Notch has kept the mini-contest alive is a smashing success for local leaders — and a reason to smile for political junkies eager for an early taste of what’s to come.

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