The New York Times five-thirty-eight has an outstanding series on state electoral geography. Today, they published one of our Battleground states: New Hampshire.
In 2012, New Hampshire — despite carrying just four electoral votes — is among the most important and is a major focus of both campaigns. Mitt Romney began a recent bus tour of America’s small towns in Stratham, N.H., and President Obama is scheduled to visit Strafford County on Monday.
270 to win
For both candidates New Hampshire represents not just four votes, but four of the final votes needed to get to, or stay in, the White House. On some of those maps, New Hampshire is the final push across the finish line.
The Bellwether: Merrimack County
Merrimack County, which is home to New Hampshire’s capital, Concord, has been a close barometer of the Democrats’ statewide strength since 2000, with Democratic support in the county consistently about 2 percentage points stronger than their statewide share of the vote. Concord itself, with its government workers, is solidly Democratic, but the towns surrounding it are Republican, almost balancing out the county.
A changing New Hampshire
“A third of the potential electorate in 2008 couldn’t vote in the state in 2000, either because they didn’t live in the state or because they weren’t old enough,” said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center. The changes have dramatically changed New Hampshire’s political landscape from among the most Republican states in the Northeast to one where Mr. Obama was able to win every county in 2008.