The date of the New Hampshire presidential primary has been set, as a new poll shows former President Donald Trump with a commanding lead and some confusion among Democrats about how to vote for President Joe Biden.

In an announcement in the Hall of Flags at the State House, Secretary of State David Scanlan said the primary will be held on Tuesday, January 23, as the state maintains its 100 year tradition of being first in the nation. Scanlan talked about the Democratic National Committee's attempt to give South Carolina the first primary over concerns that New Hampshire is not diverse.

"Diversity is not the real issue at play in this debate. At stake is who gets to determine the nominee of the party. The elites on a national party committee by controlling the nominating calendar or the voters? New Hampshire believes the voters of each state should decide who they prefer as the nominee for president, not power brokers in Washington DC," Scanlan said.

The date does not come as a surprise to Dean Spiliotes, Southern New Hampshire University Civic Scholar and founder of NH Political Capital.

Given what we know about the DNC changes to the primary schedule and New Hampshire state law, January 23 has been the long-expected date, and that held true to form today.

The Iowa caucus is scheduled for January 15, and while it will include a new mail-in ballot component, the results will not be announced until March.

Plenty of candidates to chose from

Scanlan said 21 Democrats and 24 Republicans will be on their respective party ballots.

“We really are that state where you don’t need name ID, you don’t need money, you just need to come out and earn it person to person,” he said. "It's not about Republicans, it's not about Democrats. It's about everyone coming together."

State Democratic party chair Raymond Buckley was pleased that the first in the nation tradition continues.

“New Hampshire has held the first in the nation presidential primary since 1920. For more than 100 years, presidential candidates of both parties have come to the Granite State time and again because, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money they have, they know they will get a fair shot from Granite Staters," Buckley said in a statement.

Republican chair Chris Ager called out President Joe Biden, whose name will not appear on the ballot, because New Hampshire is bucking the date set by the Democratic National Committee.

"The notable absence of Joe Biden in our first in the nation tradition is a slap in the face to all Granite Staters," Ager wrote on the party's X account.

Ticking off border security, crime, and inflation, Ager called Biden "the worst president in modern times."

How to vote for the President

Prominent Democrats, including former state party chair Kathy Sullivan, have organized a write-in effort. However, a new Emerson College/WHDH poll shows that Democrats may not yet be aware of the write-in effort.

"In the Democratic Primary, voters were presented with candidates Marianne Williamson, Dean Phillips, or a 'someone else' option, where they could write in or vocalize which candidate they planned on voting for," Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said. "A plurality of Democratic Primary voters (44%) are undecided, while 27% plan to write in Joe Biden, 15% plan to vote for Dean Phillips, 10% for Marianne Williamson, and 5% for someone else."

Trump leads Republicans with 49% followed by his former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley with 18%, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 9%, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with 7%, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy the choice of 5%.

Spiliotes is concerned about what the numbers mean for Christie.

"Christie has been hanging his entire candidacy on being the logical alternative to Trump in New Hampshire. The problem he now faces is that Haley appears to have taken that slot by an almost ten point margin. If this polling is confirmed by other outlets in the coming weeks, then that poses a significant obstacle to Christie's plans."

The Trump confidant turned critic says he has the number of donations needed to qualify for the fourth presidential debate on December 6 in Alabama. However, prior to the Emerson poll release, it was not clear if he had met the polling threshold of at least 6% in two national polls, or 6% in one national poll and two polls from different early primary states.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via X (Twitter) @DanAlexanderNH

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