Handicapping 2008: New Hampshire

Written by Paul Zannucci on 9:07 AM


(Note: In addition to taking a closer look at what separates the candidates on the big issues, we’re now going to begin looking at the Electoral College race. We’ll update the predictions as circumstances change; for example, VP selections--I'm not going to try to take into account all the possibilities now. We’re going to start off by giving Obama an automatic 3 electoral point lead for the District of Columbia. Yes, it’s a shaky limb, but someone has to go out on it.)

New Hampshire Presidential Election History

Recent History:
Seven out of the last 10 elections went to the Republicans; however, three of the last 4 went to Democrats. How much of a trend is this? Well, after the first Bush presidency, NH went for Clinton and stayed with Clinton, as did many states, during the Clinton reelection. Several fairly conservative states abandoned Bush Sr. in 1992 and stayed the course in 1996. The 2004 election was a little different, however, as the conservative power states stuck with Bush despite his unpopularity, while NH went with Kerry (a nearly indefensible selection by the Democrats) though only by about 9000 votes. I have to think that one would still consider NH a slight conservative lean given that they very nearly voted for Bush twice, but I can’t really justify it either way. We’ll call this even.

Primaries:
Republicans:
In the 2000 Republican primary, NH went for John McCain over George Bush by 19%. In 2004 Bush was unopposed. In 2008 McCain took on a crowded and confused field that still included Guiliani, a well-loved moderate who, despite not really bothering to campaign, took 9%, Thompson, Paul and Huckabee. McCain ended up beating Romney by 5%. A brief look at the history seems to point to McCain being New Hampshire’s pick whenever he’s been available. We’ll give a +2% to McCain.

Democrats: As was seen earlier, NH liked Bill Clinton quite a bit (despite voting for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 primary) and came out for Hillary in 2008, though only by 2%. The state has an amazingly low number of minorities, with African Americans coming in at about 1%, so Barrack Obama can’t count on a lot of built-in help here. Not being the state’s pick in the primary is not hardly a nail in the coffin (see Tsongas/Clinton above), especially since the race was this close. Yet this Democratic primary is especially contentious, with one disaffected group battling against another. And only one of these disaffected groups lives in New Hampshire. With McCain being moderate and well-liked in New Hampshire, I’m going to have to put this one at +2% to McCain.

National Mood:
President: The electorate tends to have a short memory of positive results and a slightly longer one over negative results. Given that the circumstances behind such results are almost always glossed over, and even with our short memory spans, it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t people out there thinking on how nice things were under the Clinton administration versus the Bush administration. There’s no nice way to put it. At this time, it’s hard to imagine the country being less behind President Bush. That has to have an impact. And New Hampshire, despite being an extraordinarily wealthy state, tends to track right along with the rest of the country in their presidential approval ratings. It’s one of the things that makes NH such a bellwether swing state. I tend to want to go with more than the self-imposed maximum of +3% to Obama except that McCain is such a different candidate than Bush. The Democrat calls of this being a third term for Bush are not overly effective. Still, Bush is extraordinarily unpopular. Let’s stick with +3 to Obama.

Nitty Gritty:
In the primaries, McCain won all the NH counties that Obama won plus a couple of Clinton’s counties. The significance here is that all of the strong Obama counties are somewhat neutralized by the fact that McCain also won there. McCain won three counties Clinton won, and Clinton won the two counties where McCain lost. This means that there could be more voters who have to pick a new candidate in areas that McCain is either slightly favored (where McCain and Clinton both won), or where no primary preference was shown (neither McCain nor Obama won) and, again, the many Clinton voters are not overly happy with Obama at this point. We’ll go +2% to McCain.

Bottom Line:
New Hampshire is the quintessential swing state that could reasonably be expected to go either way. The state voted for Bush in 2000 then for Kerry (by 9000 votes) in 2004. They basically start with a clean slate. One would assume that this naturally favors the Democratic candidate in 2008, but McCain is a popular figure in the state and there might be some fall-out from a contentious Democratic primary. Considering demographics and detailed primary results, this looks like a McCain state. We’ll have to come back and revisit this if circumstances or moods change, but right now it looks like an okay lean, maybe +3%, to John McCain. The most current Real Clear Politics average at this point has McCain up by 1.4%, thought the latest poll, by Rasmussen, has Obama up by 5. Expect there to be a temporary bump in most of these polls now that Obama has “officially” won the party nomination.

John McCain wins New Hampshire's 4 Electoral Votes:
Current CP total: McCain 4, Obama 3.

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  1. 9 comments: Responses to “ Handicapping 2008: New Hampshire ”

  2. By Mad on June 6, 2008 at 11:56 AM

    Great Blog. Would love to have you aboard!

    McCainnow.com

    Seven months ago there was little or no on-line presence in support of John McCain. Now we have over
    160 bloggers, 25 websites, and over 11,000 contacts across all our internet platforms supporting John McCain. You will find us on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Huddlez, Meetup, Linkedin, Delicious, Sphere and on and on.

    You have joined a large and growing group.

    Again, welcome and thank you!

    Slainte'

    Mad
    http://madirishmaninc.blogspot.com

  3. By Paul Zannucci on June 6, 2008 at 2:01 PM

    Okee doke. I'll sign us up. Anything to support the cause.

  4. By Paul Zannucci on June 6, 2008 at 2:01 PM

    Oh, and thanks for the invite.

  5. By Greg Knytych on June 6, 2008 at 3:32 PM

    Being from NH I feel that I have a good grasp on the political scenery. There are many Conservatives here that aren't sold on McCain but only a few really speak out.
    There are also many blog sites that do support McCain.
    I grew up in Arizona and have know McCain most all my life and I have to admit there are some positions that I differ with him on but I look at the Conservative thing to do is what Ronald Reagan would do, get behind him because he is the best shot.
    I do know that McCain's integrity and honesty are above reproach and that is a strong plus.
    Many dem's here can't stand Obama and have told me that they that they will vote for McCain.
    I am a City Councilor for Laconia and run a blog (The Blogging Councilor, www.laconia-nh.us) and admit that I haven't put much up either way.
    I am also running for State Senate (www.knytych4nhvalues.com) and have a good feel of the political climate here. There are still too many die-hard dems in the mix but if a strong message is put out regarding lowering taxes and limited government then he should win handily.
    Paul you have done a very good and thorough analysis on this state. Good Job!

  6. By Paul Zannucci on June 6, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    Greg, I've read your sites and you're going to make a great state senator. Best of luck on that.

    Thanks for your feedback on the climate in NH. Hopefully, the Republican base won't be too lethargic on election day. We've got to emphasize that the top of the ticket is strong (if not exactly what we wanted in the beginning).

  7. By Stormwarning on June 7, 2008 at 9:25 PM

    At a minimum, that McCain's integrity and honesty is beyond reproach should be enough for anyone to see the difference between John and Obama. Of course, I've been a supporter of McCain even during the days when everyone was touting Rudy G.

  8. By Greg Knytych on June 7, 2008 at 11:58 PM

    Stormwarning, You are right on the money with McCains honesty and integrity. No matter what issues I had with him I always knew he was honest.
    I wasn't for Rudy either. It was a hard year because even the more conservative candidates had issues and there wasn't a lot of vision provided. People need that in order to get fired up.
    I'll give McCain his chance and support him, but I will also be critical of any liberal things he might do, and for congress too.

  9. By Anonymous on June 8, 2008 at 6:11 PM

    I'd have to go the other way. The Republican party is dead.

  10. By Greg Knytych on June 8, 2008 at 6:25 PM

    Anonymous, Sadly to say you are mistaken.
    It is true that many of the Legislators and, at times the President have forgotten their conservative principles in regards to spending it is nothing compared to what the present leadership in the House and Senate have done.
    Subsidies for failed alternative energy that can't compete with oil, cap & trade programs that reduce jobs, health care plans that everyone paying into a socialist program, refusing to ensure the future of social security and medicare/medicaid. Let's not forget the unfunded programs that the states have to pay for.
    No you are mistaken and if the trend continues there will be a change in leadership with both houses of congress by the beginning of next year.