The Hippo


Dec 6, 2019








36 years of NH Turnout 

2016 - 755,840 voters (72.5%)
2012 - 718,700 voters (70.9%)
2008 - 719,403 voters (72.5%)
2004 - 683,672 voters (71.4%)
2000 - 578,656 voters (64.9%)
1996 - 513,698 voters (60%)
1992- 537,215 voters (65.9%)
1988 - 450,525 voters (56.2%)
1984 - 388,953 voters (54%)
1980 - 383,931 voters (58.1%)
Source: NHPR election database, NH Secretary of State website, United States Elections Project.

Record turnout
What we can learn from early data on how NH voted

By Ryan Lessard

 More Granite Staters voted in this presidential election than ever befores, and it just surpassed the record — previously held by President Barack Obama in 2008 — for the largest percentage of voters of any election in at least 30 years. 

According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State, 755,840 New Hampshire residents cast a ballot in the election, about 72.59 percent of the eligible voting population. 
As a state, New Hampshire already has relatively high turnout, according to political analyst Dean Spiliotes with Southern New Hampshire University.
“We have a political culture in the state that really values and helps promote high turnout,” Spiliotes said. “I don’t think that will change.”
The biggest increases in voter turnout occurred in the most populous counties and the counties that saw the most population growth in recent years. They include Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties, essentially the southern tier of the state. 
For example, turnout in Rockingham increased by 7 percent in real numbers between 2012 and 2016. Hillsborough’s turnout increased by 5 percent. Smaller counties like Belknap also saw a big jump compared to the last two years.
But some counties actually saw declines when compared to 2008. Those include Cheshire, Carroll, Sullivan and Coos.
UNH pollster Andy Smith said those counties have been becoming increasingly Democratic over the years, so a decrease in turnout there is possibly telling.
“The fact that less people voted in those counties would be an indication of less Democratic turnout,” Smith said. 
He said that if that’s the case, it’s likely attributable to Clinton’s low favorability numbers. 
But he cautions that’s still speculation as final numbers showing which party affiliations voters had are still being counted by state clerks.
Swing counties
Rockingham and Hillsborough counties, which include major cities like Manchester and Nashua as well as big towns like Derry and Salem, voted for Donald Trump overall this year. These two counties have been swinging between both parties for several years, though Smith said Rockingham has grown increasingly Republican of late.
In 1996 both counties voted for Bill Clinton, in 2000 and 2004 they both voted for George Bush and in 2008 they voted for Obama. They split in 2012 when Rockingham voted for Mitt Romney.
This is noteworthy since, except for Rockingham in 2012, the counties had picked the ultimate national winner, regardless of who won the state. 
One explanation for their Trump vote this year may be that those counties are naturally more Republican, according to Spiliotes. Their votes for Obama were likely buttressed by a popular movement and the 1996 election was a blowout for Bill Clinton, making those the possible exceptions to the rule. 
Party and ideology, however, were not apparently as influential as socioeconomics. Smith said there were signs of this in town-by-town results.
“Trump did significantly worse than Romney in upscale Republican towns like Bedford and Amherst, but he was able to win in traditionally blue-collar Democratic towns like Rochester and Claremont,” Smith said.
National exit poll data found similar patterns and many believe it’s why Trump was able to unexpectedly win states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The race was so close in New Hampshire, with Clinton winning it by less than 1 percent, that traditional bellwether towns like Rochester were unreliable indicators this year. 
“Trump did not win Rochester by that much and Clinton didn’t with the state by that much either,” Smith said.
Big cities like Manchester, Concord and Nashua all voted for Clinton, but Smith said the margins there were tighter than they were in recent elections.
“Clinton did not win Manchester by as big of a margin as Obama did,” Smith said.
Who voted?
Spiliotes said Clinton’s strategy was to try to replicate the voting coalition of young people and minorities Obama had supporting him, but she didn’t get as many young voters as Obama did nationally (54 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds compared to his 60 percent, according to exit polls) and she did slightly worse with the black and Latino vote compared to Obama as well. 
In New Hampshire, the population is predominantly white and aging.  
“So there was a significant dropoff for Democrats there,” Smith said.
But what gave Clinton a slight edge was education rates in the state. According to an analysis of exit polls by ABC News, Clinton won the college graduate vote by a 22-point margin in New Hampshire, which is double the margin Obama had against Romney.
College graduates make up the majority of the voters, up to 55 percent. Clinton won 63 percent of college-educated women and about half of college-educated men. Romney did better with college-educated men. Clinton also got 65 percent of the voters with graduate degrees.
Seniors in New Hampshire supported Clinton this year but by a smaller margin than they have with other Democratic candidates in past presidential elections, but more seniors came out to vote this year — nearly double the average turnout from polling data going back to 1984. 
Younger people age 18 to 39 also supported Clinton, but the age group overall represented 34 percent of the exit poll respondents. In the 40-to-65 age group, more voters supported Trump and the age group in total was 49 percent of the vote. Seniors made up 16 percent of the vote and slightly more of them supported Clinton. 
Overall it was tight. Among the the youngest age group (18 to 25), the vote was split 46 percent to 45 percent in favor of Clinton.
In New Hampshire, women made up 52 percent of the vote, and 54 percent of them voted for Clinton. Fifty-three percent of men voted for Trump.
Looking forward
This year’s voting patterns represent a shift among white working-class middle-aged men, according to Spiliotes. Where before they have voted for both parties, that group appears to be moving to the right, while rich, educated whites and minorities are staying left. 
“I think it’s been moving that way for a while,” Spiliotes said.
As national numbers revealed, they were instrumental in handing Trump states believed to be safely in Clinton’s column. The same is true of the white, working-class demographic in New Hampshire.
“I think the question going forward is going to be is this some kind of realignment in the state or is this some kind of one-time reset?” Spiliotes said.
New Hampshire stood apart as one of the last states where party divide narrowed rather than deepened, based on county margins. 
To Smith, the tightness of the race here is a sign of the larger forces in this election.
“It shows more about the impact … of the economic environment and the overall political environment this year compared to 2012,” Smith said.
This year, New Hampshire was the only state that didn’t have any counties with margins 20 percent or higher, which bucks a national trend in that direction according to the New York Times. Grafton County came close at 19 percent in favor of Clinton, but the average for all counties in either direction was 8.3 percent. In Hillsborough, the margin was lowest, 0.2 percent, in favor of Trump. 

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