01 December 2011

Rank 22 / 30: New Hampshire

New Hampshire

The Battleground state from 2008 that never was really a Battleground“


Table1: Overview of the last 6 cycles
6 cycles, 3 „flips“ in 20 years
YearRank.Winning %% Margin% Margin over NationalNotes
200822 / 3054.13%+9.61%+2.35%
200419 / 3350.24%+1.37%+3.83%
200023 / 2948.07%+1.27%+1.79%
199622 / 3049.32%+9.92%+1.43%
199232 / 2038.91%+1.22%-4.34%
198850 / 0232.49%+26.16%+18.43%

New Hampshire margin average, 1988-2008 (6 cycles): GOP+0.88%

NH county-by-county EXCEL spreadsheet
(raw totals for 2008 and 2004, margins, swings, % of state PV, county growth rate)


The Partisan Rankings over 44 years

The partisan rankings for Ranking 22 (New Hampshire) from 2008 backwardsin history to 1964 in Table-format (highlighted in yellow):

Rank2008Margin '082004Margin - 042000Margin '001996Margin '961992Margin '92
18 - 34WI13,90%PA2,50%OR0,44%WA12,54%ME8,33%
19 - 33NV12,49%NH1,37%IA0,31%LA12,07%DE8,20%
20 - 32PA10,31%WI0,38%WI0,22%IA10,34%MI7,40%
21 - 31MN10,24%IA0,67%NM0,06%WI10,33%CT6,43%
22 -30NH9,61%NM0,79%FL0,01%NH9,95%IA6,01%
23 - 29IA9,53%OH2,11%NH1,27%PA9,20%TN4,65%
24 - 28CO8,95%NV2,59%MO3,34%OR8,09%LA4,61%
25 - 27VA6,30%CO4,67%OH3,51%NM7,33%WI4,35%
26 - 26OH4,58%FL5,01%NV3,55%OH6,36%CO4,26%
27 - 25FL2,81%MO7,20%TN3,86%MO6,30%KY3,21%
28 - 24IN1,03%VA8,20%AR5,44%FL5,70%NV2,63%
29 - 23NC0,33%AR9,76%AZ6,28%TN2,41%MT2,51%
30 - 22MO0,13%AZ10,47%WV6,32%AZ2,22%NJ2,37%
31 - 21MT2,38%NC12,43%LA7,68%NV1,02%OH1,83%
32 - 20GA5,20%WV12,86%VA8,04%KY0,96%NH1,22%
33 - 19SD8,41%TN14,27%CO8,36%GA1,17%GA0,59%

1988Margin '88Rank1984Margin '841980Margin '801976Margin '761972Margin '721968Margin '681964Margin '64
NM4,96%18 - 34OH18,76%ME3,36%MO3,63%OH21,56%AR7.64%OR27,75%
CT5,10%19 - 33MI18,99%WI4,72%TX3,17%ME22,98%MO1,13%NH27,28%
MT5,87%20 - 32DE19,85%LA5,45%PA2,66%AK23,51%NJ2,13%TX26,82%
SD6,34%21 - 31MO20,05%VT5,96%HI2,53%MD23,90%OH2,28%OH25,89%
CO7,78%22 -30GA20,39%MI6,49%MS1,88%NM24,49%AK2,64%WA24,59%
MI7,90%23 - 29NM20,48%MO6,81%WI1,68%MO24,59%IL2,92%WI24,35%
LA10,21%24 - 28KY20,66%PA7,11%OH0,27%NJ24,80%CA3,08%IA23,97%
OH10,85%25 - 27NJ20,89%IL7,93%OR0,17%HI24,96%DE3,51%CO23,07%
ME11,45%26 - 26CT21,90%CT9,63%ME0,84%VT26,20%WI3,62%DE22,17%
KY11,64%27 - 25ME22,05%OR9,66%IA1,01%ND26,28%GA12.43%NM18,98%
DE12,40%28 - 24AR22,18%OH10,60%OK1,21%WV27,22%OR6,05%IL18,94%
TX12,60%29 - 23AL22,26%WA12,34%VA1,34%NV27,36%KY6,14%MT18,38%
ND13,06%30 - 22MT22,30%IA12,70%SD1,48%CO28,01%NV8,16%CA18,32%
KS13,23%31 - 21LA22,60%VA12,72%CA1,78%KY28,60%NH8,18%NV17,16%
NJ13,64%32 - 20IN23,99%NJ13,42%IL1,97%NH29,12%SC5,79%ND16,09%
AR14,18%33 - 19NC24,00%TX13,86%NJ2,16%AZ31,26%MT9,01%WY13,12%
NC16,26%34 - 18MS24,39%CA16,78%NM2,47%IN32,77%CO9,14%AR12,66%
TN16,34%35 - 17VA25,19%FL17,02%WA3,88%TX32,96%VT9,22%IN12,42%
OK16,65%36 - 16SD26,47%NM18,18%NV4,36%LA36,97%FL9,60%NC12,30%
AL19,30%37 - 15TX27,50%IN18,35%CT5,17%VA37,72%TN3,83%OK11,49%
IN20,16%38 - 14SC27,99%CO24,00%MI5,39%TN37,95%NC8,25%SD11,22%
GA20,25%39 - 13CO28,32%MT24,39%ND5,85%AR38,11%VA10,87%TN11,01%
VA20,50%40 - 12FL30,66%KS24,56%MT7,44%KS38,15%SD11,31%UT9,73%
MS20,82%41 - 11ND31,04%OK25,53%KS7,55%ID38,20%NM12,10%KS9,03%
NV20,94%42 - 10KS33,67%AK27,94%IN7,62%WY38,54%IA12,19%VA7,36%
NE20,96%43 - 9NV33,88%SD28,83%VT11,20%NC40,58%IN12,30%NE5,21%
AZ21,21%44 - 8AZ33,88%NH29,39%NH11,28%NE41,00%OK15,70%FL2,30%
FL22,36%45 - 7AK36,79%AZ32,36%CO11,47%UT41,25%ND17,71%ID1,83%
WY22,52%46 - 6NH37,71%WY34,67%AZ16,57%SC42,66%UT19,42%AZ0,99%
AK23,32%47 - 5OK37,94%NV35,64%WY19,49%FL44,12%AZ19,76%GA8,25%
SC23,92%48 - 4NE41,74%ND37,97%NE20,74%AL46,89%KS20,13%LA13,63%
ID26,07%49 - 3WY42,27%NE39,49%AK22,25%OK49,70%WY20,25%SC17,79%
NH26,16%50 - 2ID45,97%ID41,27%ID22,76%GA50,39%ID26,13%AL38,90%
UT34,17%51 - 1UT49,83%UT52,20%UT28,79%MS58,57%NE28,01%MS74,28%


Helpful Info LinksHelpful Election Links
NH WIKIComplete NH electoral raw data (Presidential)
NH Census InformationNH county-by-county EXCEL spreadsheet
NH Census Profile mapNH VR link
NH population 2008: 1,315,809NH VR Current Stats
NH Population Density: 56.6 persons per square Km.NH VR Changes : N/A
Electoral Vote Density: 328,952 persons per EV.NH VR Archives


NH Electoral Development (electors through history): 5 (1789), 6 (1792-1800), 7 (1804-1808), 8 (1812-1828), 7 (1832-1840), 5 (1844-1848), 5 (1852-1880), 4 EV (1884-present)


New Hampshire is the 22nd most liberal state and the 30th most conservative state, with a Democratic winning margin of +9.61% and having voted 2.35% more Democratic than the national margin in 2008. It was the 19th most liberal state in 2004 and the lone Democratic„pick-up“ state, with a Democratic winning margin of +1.37% and having voted 3.83% more Democratic than the national margin in thatyear. NH was the 29th most conservative state in 2000, a Republican „pick-up“state in that year, with a Republican winning margin of +1.27% and having voted 1.79%more Republican than the national margin in 2000.

From 1904-2008, New Hampshire went for the GOP 
15 times,for the DEMS 12 times and 1 time for an Independent candidate (Roosevelt, 1912).

Since 1948 New Hampshire went for the GOP times, for the DEMS times.

The state of New Hampshire has a tradition for wanting to be first. It holds the first Primary of the season and even has a law on the books requiring New Hampshire to hold the first Primary of the season, cost what it will. Also, in the little sleepy hollow o fDixville Notch, NH, the votes are cast and the results are broadcast after midnight going into election day in both the Primaries and the GE.

With the inclusion of the Republican party in the Electoral College in 1856, New Hampshire was a GOP bastion through 1908, having gone Republican 14 cycles in a row. 8 of those cycles were single-digit wins, but the last four were massive double-digit wins, William McKinleys massive +42.88% margin from 1896 being the record-setter in the state.

Woodrow Wilson was the first Democrat to win the Granite State since 1856; he carried NH with a +2.04% margin. He held the state in his re-election of 1916, but set the„squeaker“ record in this state of +0.06%,or +52 votes.

New Hampshire returned to the GOP column in 1920 and stayed there until 1936. It was one of the few states to resist the FDR landslide of 1932 (Hoover +1.43%), but FDR did indeed pick-up NH in 1936, with +1.75%.Remember these two margins when we get to 2000 and 2004. FDR also held New Hampshire in 1940 and 1944, also in single-digit margins, but the state went reliably back into the GOP column in 1948 and stayed there for 4 cycles, until 1964. New Hampshire loved IKE in the1950s, giving him the largest margin (+32.26%) in 1956 since McKinley's historic win sixty years earlier.

Kennedy was unable to bring this state into the Democratic column in 1960. It went for Vice President Richard Nixon by +6.84%in 1960, by +8.18% in 1968 and by a whalloping +29.12% in 1972. But the state easily went for LBJ back in 1964, with +27.28%, the Democratic record for the „Live Free or Die“ state.

In spite of a very close national election in 1976, New Hampshire was not competitive for Carter at all. Ford landslided here with+11.28% and the next three cycles (1980, 1984 and 1988) all brought massive double digit margins for the GOP home: +29.39%and +37.71% (thenumber two record in NH, after McKinley) for Reagan and +26.16% for Bush, Sr.

So, it was indeed a surprise when New Hampshire flipped to Bill Clinton and the Democratic party in 1992. Though his win was lean (+1.22%), the partisan shift necessary to get there was enormous: +27.38% partisan shift, 1992 over 1988. This kind of shift would next be seen in the state of Indiana in 2008, and that is an important detail to remember. In 1996, Clinton retained NH with +9.95%. What a difference just 8 years make.

In the extremely close and turbulent election / electoral misfire of 2000, George W. Bush narrowly picked-up NH with +1.27%. Had Al Gore retained NH with its 3 EV, then FL would have been inconsequential and the former Vice President would have won. But history does not have it this way: Bush won NH, and by a larger margin than the wins for either side in FL, NM, WI, IA and OR.

In 2004, by almost exactly the same margin (+1.37%), John Kerry flipped the state back to the Democratic party. We have seen these margins before in history, eh? Yes, 1936 over 19232 produced very similar results in this state.

Obama's 2008 near landslide in NH, with +9.61% (just slightly smaller than his landslide in Pennsylvania), broke the single-digit trend from 2000 and 2004 and was:

-the largest Democratic win by winning percent since 1964.
-the largest Democratic winning margin in a two-man race since 1964.

Important details about NH:

-Every elected Republican president in our history, regardless whether a one-term and two-term President, has won NH in his first term: Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinley, Taft, Harding,Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43.

-Every Republican Vice President who succeeded to the Presidency upon the death or resignation of his predecessor and who waged his own campaign for the next term, won NH, without exception: Roosevelt, Coolidge, Ford.

-Up to 2004, every two-term Republican in history won NH both times: Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan.

-Up to 1992, every one-term Republican won NH both times (1stelection, re-election campaign): Harrison, Taft, Hoover, Ford.

Only two Republican incumbents in the entire history of the nation have lost NH in their re-election bids, and they are related to each other: 

-George W. Bush, Sr.
-George W. Bush, Jr.

-NH is the ONLY state in the Union where the GOP percentage superlative has been a tie between two candidates: both Reagan in 1984 and McKinley in 1896 each won NH with 68.66%.


-No two-term Democrat in 123 years, or since 1888, has lost NH in his-relection bid. Wilson, FDR '36, FDR '40, FDR '44 and Clinton all won NH in their re-elections. But it depends on how you look at Harry Truman: he served almost 8 complete years, but was elected only once to the Presidency in his own right (1948). In 1944, FDR won NH, in 1948, Truman lost NH.

-Of the Democratic Vice-Presidents who suceeded to the Presidency upon the death of their predecessor and who went on to wage their own election campaigns in the next cycle, one won NH (Johnson) and one lost NH (Truman) -see above paragraph.

-Five Democratic Presidents lost NH in their FIRST election: Cleveland, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Carter. 

-Only one Democratic President lost NH two times in a row: Carter

-Only one Democratic President lost NH three times in a row, but was elected to two terms nationally: Cleveland (1884, 1888, 1892).

NH and Incumbents

RI and MI, New Hampshire has rewarded incumbents who won re-election in percentage, but the „State minus Natl's“ (Partisan Value) is generally much more favorable to Republicans than to Democrats. In other words, the state wide margins in NH for Republicans are generally FAR above the national average, whereas the state-wide margins for Democrats have for the most part been under the national average. To illustrate this point, I am increasing the following table all the way back to 1896 over 1892:

President -NHYear / MarginYear / MarginState ShiftNational Shift:State minus Nat'l
McKinley1896 / +42.781900 / +20.91-21.87+1.82-23.69
Wilson1916 / +2.041916 / +0.06-1.98-11.32+9.34
FDR1932 / -1.431936 / +1.75+3.18+6.49-3.31
FDR1936 / +1.751940 / +6.44+4.69-14.30-18.99
FDR1940 / +6.441944 / +4.24+2.20-2.46+0.20
Eisenhower1952 / +21.841956 / +32.2710.43+4.55+5.88
Nixon1968 / +8.181972 / +29.12+20.94+22.98-2.04
Carter1976 / -11.281980 / -29.39-18.11-11.80-6.31
Reagan1980 / +29.391984 / +37.71+8.32+8.48-0.16
Bush 411988 /+26.161992 / -1.22-27.38-13.29-14.09
Clinton1992 / +1.221996 / +9.95+8.73+2.96+5.77
Bush 432000 / +1.272004 / -1.37-2.64+2.98-5.62
Obama2008 / +9.952012 / ????????????

Red shading = GOP pick-up

To explain this gobbledygook, the most important value to understand is the “State minus Nation” value, in the right-most coluNH, shadedin grey. 
If it is a positive number, then this is good for that incumbent.Unlike RI and MI, where most of the “State minus National”numbers are positive, NH is a mixed-bag of results, to say the least.

The shift in trend in NH since 1992 over 1998 is very striking: Bush 41 lost NH in his unsuccessful re-election bid and the partisan shift between 1992 and 1998 was enormous. -27.38%, which was 14.09 points greater than his overall national shift 1992 over 1988, -13.29.
It would be one thing were this an outlier trend and the state had „snapped back“ to it's known configuration of being overwhelmingly predisposed to vote Republican. But instead, for the first time in 50 years, a Democrat won a second term and won NH both times, and not only that, the shift in NH was GREATER than his national shift: +5.77% toward the Democratic party OVER the national shift.

So, NH just had a massive 13.29% shift toward the Democratic party greater than the national shift in 1992 over 1998, then again a 5.77% shift over the national in 1996 over 1992 – which makes for a total of 19.06% shift over 8 years.

Of course, Bush 43 shifted some of that back to the GOP in 2000 over 1996, not recorded on the table as it was not a re-election, so here the stats: Bush 43 won NH with +1.27% in 2000, which made a statewide partisan shift of +11.22% for the Republican party. Nationally, the shift was exactly 8.00% toward the GOP in 2000, so the TREND in NH in 2000 was 3.22% OVER the national shift.

So, of the 19.06% over the national in 1996, 3.22% shifted back, making a total Democratic shift of 15.84% BEFORE John Kerry won the state in 2004.

In 2004 over 2000, as you can see from the table above, the shift was 5.22% against the Republicans and toward the Democratic party ABOVE the national shift, which makes a total +21.06% BEFORE the Obama landslide of 2008.

The table proves that the landslide for the 44th Presidentdid not come overnight, that the terrain in NH shifted more than we realize over the last 20 years.

None of this guarantees an Obama win in NH in 2012, nor does it support the case for a GOP win, but it does show that extreme „lurching“shifts in NH well ABOVE the national shift are possible.

Based on its voting record, NH is not a bellwether state, having missed the Electoral College winner in 6 of the last 26 cycles, or 100 years and missed the PV winner in 7 of the last 26 cycles, and more recently, it has missed the Electoral College winner 4 times since 1960 and the PV winner 5 times since 1960.

Why was NH called a „battleground“ in 2008?

The McCain campaign called it a battleground, but as of the middle of September, according to all polling in the state, it was no longer in play.

Interestingly enough, the election results from NH and PA – the two states John McCain picked to open as major battlegrounds, were almost carbon copies of each other. But notice the very next state on the list:

StateEVObamaMcCainOther%MarginObamaMcCainOtherMarginTotal Vote
New Hampshire1054.06%43.82%2.12%+10.24%1,573,3541,275,40961,606+297,9452,910,369
New Hampshire454.13%44.52%1.35%+9.61%384,826316,5349,610+68,292710,970

The McCain team may have chosen to call NH a battleground, bit it was never really a battleground in 2008. The end polling averages predicted an Obama winning margin of +10.43%, which was 0.82% above the actual margin.

Of the 47 polls conducted in NH from March to November 2008, McCain won 10 polls, 6 of them from March, - and Obama won the other 37 polls. 

Can NH become a battleground in 2012?

Yes, definitely. Any state can suddenly become a battleground, if conditions areright for such a shift, and the conditions exist right now in the case of a Romney candidacy. In consistent polling over the last 4 months, Romney is leading Obama far enough outside the margin of error that it looks very likely that Romney could pick-up NH for the GOP again, assuming of course that Mitt Romney gets the GOPnomination. All other GOP candidates lag behind President Obama.

State Superlatives

NH SuperlativesYEARCandidateWinning %Notes
---------------------Winning Margin %
All-time “squeaker”1916Wilson+0.0656 Votes

In New Hampshire, the Governor and 1 Senator are Democrats. The President of the State Senate, the other Senator and 2 US Representatives are Republicans. In the New Hampshire General Court, the Republican Party has a hypermajority in both Houses.

Facit: NH is up for grabs in 2012 and should be a battleground state.

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