Changing Electorate Could Affect New Hampshire’s Primary
New Hampshire has been holding the first-in-the-nation presidential primary for 100 years, but a significant number of Tuesday’s ballots could be cast by newcomers to that storied tradition.
New Hampshire has one of the nation’s lowest percentages of native-born residents, with only a third of those age 25 and older having been born in the state. And one-fifth of the state’s potential voters either resided somewhere else four years ago or were not old enough to vote, according to a recent analysis of demographic trends by the University of New Hampshire.
Those shifts challenge some of the presumptions about New Hampshire voters and could affect Tuesday’s results, given that surveys suggest the newcomers and young voters are less conservative than the established residents.
“Many people think of New Hampshire as a place where people have lived for 10 generations and their ancestors signed the Constitution or Declaration of Independence, and, in fact, I know someone like that,” said Ken Johnson, senior demographer at the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy. “But New Hampshire is one of the most mobile states in the country.”
From 2016 to 2020, nearly 70,000 residents turned 18 and became eligible to vote, while 46,000 older residents died. During the same period, about 160,000 voting-age adults moved into the state, and about 150,000 moved out.
It’s unknown how that churn will shake out on Election Day. But according to University of New Hampshire Survey Center polls, both young residents and recent migrants are less likely to identify themselves as conservative than established residents are. Of the three groups, young residents are the most likely to identify as liberals, but they’re also the least likely to have registered to vote. Just 61% have done so, compared to 54% of migrants and 88% of established residents.
About 40% of the new residents in recent years came from Massachusetts, and an additional 30% came from other Northeastern states. About a quarter came from Southern or Western states, with the smallest share coming from the Midwest.
That small group included Martha Carlson, 48, who moved to Hollis from Chicago in 2018 and plans to register as a Democrat on Tuesday. Her husband is from Minnesota and likes his home state Sen. Amy Klobuchar, but Carlson said she is about 90% sure she’ll vote for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“He’s moderate, and we’re moderate people,” she said.
Alyssa McKeon and her family moved to Hopkinton in 2018 from Salem, Massachusetts. She said that while she is excited about a number of the Democratic candidates, it was a “no-brainer” to decide to back Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“I’m a planner myself, and I deeply appreciate her comprehensive plans and her approach to how to actually get it done,” said McKeon, a 34-year-old registered Democrat who works for an education nonprofit. “I understand it’s going to take drastic changes to how we do business and how we finance things, and I think it’s time for an overhaul.”
No estimates are available regarding the racial makeup of the state’s new voters, and the state remains far less diverse than the rest of the nation. Overall, minorities made up 8.7% of the adult population in 2018, a statistic to which critics of the primary point in arguing New Hampshire doesn’t deserve its starring role in the presidential nominating process.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is banking on trying to bring new voters to the polls and has shown a particular strength with young people. Other campaigns have made a concerted push in the state’s college towns.
Ella Diers, who turned 18 in September, said she has been paying fairly close attention to the campaigns.
“I’m kinda leaning toward Pete Buttigieg. I like that he’s not extreme,” said Diers, of Concord. “I think he seems like just a very normal guy and not very polarizing to either side, which I think is important. He seems to have good values.”
She’s not a fan of President Donald Trump’s and is eager to cast a vote toward ending his time in office.
“I’m pretty excited. I think it’s pretty cool that I get to vote,” she said. “It’s definitely time for a change.”
In The News
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Republican candidate saw her vote lead dwindle to single digits Wednesday in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District as a dramatic recount moved toward a conclusion in a race that will help determine the size of Democrats’ majority in the House of... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday seemed like the end of President Donald Trump's relentless challenges to the election, after the federal government acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” and Trump cleared the way for cooperation on a transition of power. But his baseless claims have... Read More
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — On a day of grace and grievance, President-elect Joe Biden summoned Americans to join in common purpose against the coronavirus pandemic and their political divisions while the man he will replace stoked the fading embers of his campaign to “turn the election... Read More
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democrats once dominated Koochiching County in the blue-collar Iron Range of northern Minnesota. But in this month's presidential election, President Donald Trump won it with 60% of the vote. That's not because voters there are suddenly shifting to the right, said... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College formalizes President-Elect Joe Biden's victory — even as he insisted such a decision would be a “mistake” — as he spent his Thanksgiving renewing baseless claims that... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More