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Carsey: New Voters Make the Granite State One to Watch in November

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
October 15, 2008

A third of potential voters in New Hampshire this fall have only recently become eligible to vote in the state. Further, these potential new voters are more likely to identify with the Democratic Party and less likely to identify as Republicans than are established New Hampshire voters, contributing to the state’s “purple” status. These findings, from the Carsey Institute at UNH, are based on analysis by three experts — in demography, polling, and election registration data — of recently released demographic, polling and voter registration data.

“New Hampshire has one of the most mobile populations in the nation, resulting in significant turnover in the electorate,” says co-author Kenneth Johnson, Carsey Institute senior demographer and professor of sociology, who wrote the report with UNH Survey Center Director Andy Smith and associate professor of political science Dante Scala.

Drawing on recent U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data, the report finds that between 2000 and 2008, 208,000 potential voters moved to New Hampshire – including many from the Boston area. These newcomers, combined with 113,000 young residents reaching their 18th birthdays in the past eight years, represent a significant new electoral force. In a state with only 991,000 potential voters, these 321,000 new voters could play a critical role in the upcoming election.  

“These new voters are more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than established New Hampshire voters,” adds Smith, who is also an associate professor of political science. “While our first-in-the-nation primary is long over, New Hampshire is still very much in the national spotlight as a traditionally red state becoming blue.”

Both young voters (53 percent) and migrants (52 percent) are more likely to identify themselves as Democrats than the state’s more established voters (43 percent), according to analysis of the UNH Survey Center’s Granite State Polls.

While preferences of new potential voters have yet to be fully reflected in voter registration data, in general, New Hampshire counties with greater migration gains experienced larger gains in Democratic registrations. Traditionally Republican counties such as Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap saw the most dramatic changes in partisanship; the share of registered Democrats in these counties grew at nearly twice the statewide Democratic growth rate.

“In Carroll and Belknap counties in particular, these rapid gains coincided with many new migrants, suggesting that voter turnover contributed to these Democratic gains,” says Scala, who is also chair of the political science department at UNH. “These two traditional Yankee Republican counties also experienced the second and third largest declines, behind Coos, in Republican registrations.”

To download a copy of the report, go to http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/IB-NHVoter08.pdf.

 


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