New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire presidential primary for the 2016 cycle was held on February 9, 2016, and Donald Trump won it in a landslide. When New Hampshire was more conservative and when the Northeast had more credibility in the South, this primary outcome nearly decided who the Republican Party nominee would be, as in 1980 when Ronald Reagan won this primary and then the nomination. But by 2000, George W. Bush lost this primary and yet still won the nomination. Some Southerners resent the preferences of the liberal Northeast today, and may seek to reject the candidate that New Hampshire endorses.
Today New Hampshire has many RINO voters in the GOP primary, but with Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee on the Dem side, many independents will vote on the Republican primary as in 2012, when Mitt Romney defeated Ron Paul by a landslide 39-23% margin. The total conservative vote in this primary in 2012 (Gingrich, Santorum and Perry) was only about 20%.
New Hampshire is a must-win state for Donald Trump and other fiscal conservatives, because social conservatives are likely to prevail in the Iowa caucuses, the South Carolina primary, and the SEC primary. Jeb Bush needs to finish in the top two or three.
Republican primary voters are not as socially conservative in New Hampshire as in the Midwest and the South, and New Hampshire has lost the enormous significance it once had in the Republican presidential nomination process. It does has a maverick streak, liking to reject a front-runner candidate in order to deliver an upset winner. John McCain won New Hampshire primary in both 2000 and 2008, reflecting the anti-tax, pro-veteran, independent leanings of the primary voters. "Independent voters make up about 40 percent of the Granite State's electorate. Registered party members can vote only in their own party's primaries, but Independents can vote in either. ... Although George Bush beat Sen. John McCain among registered Republicans, independents, who accounted for 41 percent of the total GOP turnout, handed McCain the win."
Independents are allowed to vote in the Republican primary, which can yield a more moderate result than if it were Republicans only. In 2000, a flood of Independents voting in the Republican primary carried John McCain to an upset victory over eventual nominee George W. Bush, and relegated Steve Forbes to a distant third place without any subsequent chance of winning the nomination. But John McCain's military combat record gave him an advantage with Independents in New Hampshire that almost no current presidential candidate has.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the New Hampshire primary that carried him to the nomination by the Republican Party for president. That was typical influence by New Hampshire during that era. But in 2012, Newt Gingrich finished a distant third in New Hampshire with only 14% of the vote, and yet won the South Carolina primary only eleven days later.