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The New New Hampshire Voter

Obama reaches out to a new generation in the Granite State. (The Washington Post).

By Alec MacGillis
CONCORD, N.H. -- As the Jan. 8 primary here nears, the campaigns are studying the recent past for clues to their fate. Will
Hillary Clinton be able to capitalize on New Hampshire voters' fondness for her husband in the 1990s? Will John McCain be able to retain the affections of the thousands who flocked to him in 2000?

But recent electoral history may hold only so much relevance for the upcoming primary, because New Hampshire has changed considerably. According to a report released today by Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, the state has experienced such an unusually high degree of resident turnover that nearly a quarter of its million or so eligible voters are new to the scene since 2000.

According to Johnson's estimates, slightly more than 230,000 potential voters have become eligible since 2000 -- about 145,000 who migrated from outside the state and 86,000 who reached voting age. And about 128,000 residents who were eligible to vote in 2000 have left the state, while about 48,000 died.

"I can't imagine that it doesn't change the character of the electorate, to have [thousands leave] and get that surge of new voters in," Johnson said. "It's not the same terrain that we were dealing with seven years ago."

The political import of this high turnover could take any of several forms. The numbers suggest that there are fewer voters than one might assume with memories of Bill Clinton's "comeback kid" finish in 1992 and the Clintons' subsequent close relationship with the state throughout the 1990s, and that many of the voters who caught McCain fever in 2000 may no longer be around for a sequel. With so many migrants from Massachusetts, Romney's background as a former governor of that state figures to play a role in voters' perceptions of him.

The numbers may also hold some promise for
Barack Obama
. Johnson said that the new residents tend to have significantly higher incomes than those leaving the state. This would appear to favor Obama in the Democratic primary, given that opinion polls nationwide have consistently shown him to fare better with higher-educated, upscale Democratic voters while Clinton generally fares better with middle and working class voters.

Clinton supporters here recognize the demographic challenge posed by these new residents, many of them drawn by expansions at big employers like Fidelity and Liberty Mutual, but say it will not necessarily be decisive. "A lot of the people ... in that group will be excited by Obama," said Lou D'Allesandro, a veteran state senator from Manchester backing Clinton. "The question is, do they come out to vote?"

The estimates of high turnover since 2000 are yet another sign why political scientists are cautioning against drawing too many comparisons between this year's primaries and those in 2000. It has been tempting to view the Obama-Clinton confrontation as an equivalent of the Bill Bradley-Al Gore match-up of 2000, which Gore won narrowly due partly to Bradley's inability to wrest the support of the state's undeclared voters -- who can vote in either primary -- away from McCain. But political scientists note that this time around, there is less competition between Obama and McCain for independent voters.

For one thing, the state's undeclared voters have increasingly been leaning more to one party or another. And, says UNH political scientist Andrew Smith, Bradley and McCain competed for independent voters in 2000 partly because they both had personal profiles -- basketball star/Rhodes scholar and war hero -- that gave them an appeal outside usual the political boundaries, particularly among male voters. "You had people brought into the primaries from outside the usual electorate," Smith said.

The notion that there could be less competition from McCain for independent voters this time around than there was in 2000 is heartening to Obama supporters who also backed Bradley in 2000, only to see him fall a few percentage points shy of a major upset of Gore after nearly two-thirds of the state's independent voters decided to vote in the GOP primary instead of the Democratic one.

"I remember vividly how much we felt that the national [Bradley] campaign had to better understand the independent voter in New Hampshire," said Mary Rauh, a co-chair of both the Bradley and Obama campaigns in the state. "We were not as effective as we should have been. We really had to target those independents ... and it was very frustrating that we couldn't get that job done."

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 18, 2007; 8:10 PM ET
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Getting back to the the brunette, she kinds reminded me of Monica Lewinsky. Speaking of which, this week the CBS EVENING NEWS continues its series 'Primary Questions' where Katie Couric sits down with the presidential candidates and asks what makes them tick . . . everything from losing their tempers to the biggest mistake they've ever made. Wednesday night they tackle the issue of infidelity!

KATIE COURIC: Harry Truman said, quote, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Many people say they don't feel comfortable supporting someone who's not remained faithful to their spouse. Why should they?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Why should they not--

KATIE COURIC: Support someone who isn't faithful. In other words, people feel uncomfortable. Is that appropriate? Or, you know, how do you feel about that?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I -- you -- you know, I -- I do think that -- public morality and -- and private morality are not sum -- you know, or not equivalent. You know, we -- some of our greatest presidents haven't always been terrific husbands. And some who have been wonderful husbands have been (LAUGHS) rotten presidents.

So, you know, I think that -- other countries have typically taken a little more -- casual on approach when it comes to -- the personal lives of -- of elected officials. And I think that there has to be some space for privacy. I will say this.

I do think that -- I'm very proud of the relationship I've got with Michelle. And -- the work and the value that I've put into it. And I hope it does say something about my character, the strength of my marriage. But, you know, if -- if I was -- had a wonderful marriage but didn't have good ideas in terms of providing healthcare for every American or repairing the damage that's been done to our foreign policy by George Bush, then -- my marriage alone shouldn't qualify me for -- for being president.

KATIE COURIC: Should infidelity qualify someone -- or should infidel --

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Disqualify.

KATIE COURIC: -- infidelity disqualify someone?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: You know, I -- I'm very -- I'm very cautious about -- applying -- strict moral rules to -- or -- or -- or a blanket universal rule to -- to people. Because, you know -- I mean, there are some people who might say that the fact that -- you know, I indulged in -- drugs when I was young disqualifies me. I mean, there are a lot of ways that you can apply that kind of morality. What I'm always hopeful of is that -- people are -- judge our public servants based on their passion, their commitment, their public integrity, how they operate with that public trust. And, you know, if we start getting too -- sanctimonious about some of these issues then there aren't going to be that many people who are able or willing to serve.

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

ZOOT-If you want a Souvenir, here is one from those good ol Yahoo Message Boards Days!


The Dingleberries of Politics!

LOL! BTW-it's actually Surf-Rat, not "Dirty" Rat!

Posted by: rat-the | December 19, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse


You're aptly named. How are things in the political sewer? Thanks for dredging up a souvenir for us.


Posted by: zoot1 | December 19, 2007 5:32 AM | Report abuse

It's too bad about Huckabee and Romney. Politics as usual! Both candidates are the same old material we always get - POLITICIANS. Nothing new here. Very disappointing! There is really only one answered to fixing all of these problems and treating the symptom won't make it go away. That is what has been the coarse of action for many years and what do we have, the same old problems only getting worse because the only cure for these deep wounds so far has been putting a band-aid over them. To fix these problems right we must get to the foundation. A house that's built upon a weak foundation will not last but a house that is built on a firm foundation will endure. That foundation is our CONSTITUTION that is being chiseled away very rapidly. It is the foundation that sets us apart from the rest of the world and if we look towards it, it will guide us towards the right coarse of action. No politician anymore upholds or addresses this, they ignore it and replace it with political law (majority rule) that is based upon changing opinions and what sells themselves. The CONSTITUTION is foundational law. There is only one candidate that upholds this and stands firmly and unchanging. His name is RON PAUL. The MSM ignores him because he poses a threat to their agendas, nevertheless his support has been resonating across our nation silently as if by magic and his support is far greater than the MSM will admit! Let's face it, if the republicans want to gain the presidency, than RON PAUL is their only choice to win. He is the only republican who supports the 74% of Americans that want out of the war immediately! Scores of democrats already support him and his powerful message of the Constitution and freedom appeals to everyone! He has a flawless record and character to add to this. There is nothing to dig up on him. Along with these attributes, his tactful, humorous, honest and wise speaking skills will most definitely be the weapon to beat the democrats including Hilary. Do yourselves a favor and research him for our countries sake and think out of the box like a leader and not follow like blind sheep. RON PAUL!

Posted by: patriot4freedom4us | December 19, 2007 12:43 AM | Report abuse

LOL! Blue Hair's for Hussein Obasama!

The Future!

Posted by: rat-the | December 19, 2007 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Matt, that was not lost on me!

That is why "Huck" is a qualified "#2"!

As for the picture above, I would have gone running for cover for fear of being accused of "Guilt by Association!"

Yeah, the brunette is cute, but the "Hero Worship" in her eyes, is flat out scarey!

Posted by: rat-the | December 19, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

JJ, you may want to read the piece again. It clearly states that Lou D'Allesandro is a Clinton backer.

Posted by: jbnimble | December 18, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

get your facts straight. lou d'allesandro supports senator clinton, not senator obama.

Posted by: jj_lennard | December 18, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: zukermand | December 18, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to decide between two candidates: Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. It's really tough to decide. Both candidates have comparable educational backgrounds that qualify them to lead the United States (Huckabee's bachelor degree in religion from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia is roughly equivalent to Romney's cum laude law degree and Baker scholar MBA degree from Harvard, right?). Both candidates served as governors of states that face equally complex problems (Arkansas, with its population of 2.8 million and gross state product of $87 billion, is pretty much the same as Massachusetts, with its population of 6.4 million and gross state product of $318 billion, right?). Both candidates have pre-political experience that qualify them to be President (Huckabee was a pastor of several Southern Baptist churches in Arkadelphia, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas and served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention; no doubt equal to Romney's founding and taking of Bain Capital from a $37M fund to a $50B fund in 20 years and rescuing the 2002 Olympics). And both have wives and children that would make a great First Family (compare Huckabee family photo at with Romney family photo at So you can see why I am having such a difficult time making up my mind . . .

Posted by: Matt_Damon | December 18, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

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