Tiny New Hampshire seen as key for Trump, Clinton and Senate control

New Hampshire citizens cast their vote at Amherst Street Elementary School on November 8, 2016, in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Kayana Szymczak | Getty Images
New Hampshire citizens cast their vote at Amherst Street Elementary School on November 8, 2016, in Nashua, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire started the race for president, and this year the Granite State could end it.

The four Electoral College votes from the state, which holds the nation's first primary, are crucial for Donald Trump and could put Hillary Clinton over the top even if she loses other, bigger battleground states.

And the state could cast the deciding vote for which party controls the Senate as incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte sought re-election against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Democrats need to pick up five seats to get back control of the Senate if Trump wins. If Clinton wins, they need four.

NBC's final battleground map had New Hampshire in the "toss-up" section. Clinton and Trump held last minute rallies there because of its significance. The New England state leans Democratic, but is no slam dunk for the party like most states in the region. President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012. John Kerry did as well in 2004. However, George W. Bush won there in 2000 and Ronald Reagan won twice there in 1980 and '84.

Clinton has dealt with a Bernie Sanders hangover in the state. The Vermont senator beat her by 22 points in the Democratic primary. Sanders has since campaigned multiple times with her there in order to diffuse some of that disappointment. Clinton did best Obama there in the primary eight years ago.

Even with the state's northern location, Latinos could be the group that sways the vote in Clinton's favor. They make up only a little more than 3 percent of the state's population but more than half of the Latino population is eligible to vote, a higher ratio than the norm, according to a Pew Center study.

Early voting in the state went to Trump. Tiny towns Dixville Notch, Hart's Location and Millsfield are among the precincts that have permission to open their polls at midnight. Trump won over Clinton 32 -25 votes.