When asked about the investment of time and advertising dollars in a state with only four of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, advisers to both campaigns point to the 2000 election. George W. Bush won the presidency after weeks of uncertainty and a Supreme Court decision - and after winning New Hampshire by a narrow margin. Democrats point to the fact that third-party candidate Ralph Nader received more than 22,000 votes that year in New Hampshire, more than three times Bush's margin of victory in the state.
"All of a sudden, people started to realize those four electoral votes, in a very close election, can be the deciding four electorals," said Jim Demers, a member of Obama's New Hampshire steering committee and co-chairman of his 2008 campaign in the state.
While the other New England states have become solidly Democratic in presidential elections, New Hampshire has evolved from a Yankee Republican past into a state both parties consider winnable.
Party registration here is nearly even, but the Democratic and Republican voter rolls are exceeded by the portion of undeclared voters, who can take a ballot in either party's primary.
But Andy Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, said voters who register as undeclared mostly align with one party or the other.
On each side, some advisers were willing to predict a win for their candidate, while others hesitated. Ned Helms, a member of Obama's steering committee, said he believes New Hampshire voters will view the election as a choice between moving forward or backward. "I'm optimistic about our chances, but I don't think there's a person in the campaign who isn't conscious of the fact that if we let up for a second we could lose," he said.
Jim Merrill, senior adviser to Romney in the state, said he is confident the campaign's economic message will resonate in a state with a traditional focus on fiscal issues, and even with the state's relatively low unemployment rate, 5.1 percent in June, expects a narrow win.
"I think it's going to be a photo finish," he said.
Before both parties suspended campaign work following the killings at a movie theater in Colorado, Romney workers spent a recent Sunday morning seeking supporters at a NASCAR event in Loudon. Wearing blue campaign shirts, they approached people to ask if Romney has their support. At times it was slow going - some folks preferred Obama, some didn't care for politics, and some were from Canada.
But by the time the race began, the volunteers had several pages of contact information for supporters from New Hampshire and beyond.
A day later, supporters of Obama gathered over a potluck supper in Merrimack to discuss reconnecting with like-minded voters and winning over independents.
Throughout the week, the campaign emphasized the president's policies for K-12 education. On one day, it ushered teachers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire around the state. On another, the campaign brought Nye and U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.), a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to tour three science museums. Nye spoke of the importance of education funding.
Of the undeclared voters who do vote for either party, some have made their decisions. Mark Pingree, 60, who is semi-retired from a career mostly in manufacturing, said he voted for Obama in 2008 but is likely to support Romney this fall. He said he believes the president has done too little to improve the economy, though he has no special fondness for the Republican challenger.
"I love politics, but politicians I don't care for," Pingree said.