One More Look at New Hampshire

Voting data reflect Gore/Clinton and Bradley/Obama similarities.

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I have already remarked on the eerie resemblance between the constituencies backing Al Gore 2000/Hillary Clinton 2008 and Bill Bradley 2000/Barack Obama 2008. Now, with the final returns in from New Hampshire, we can compare the 2008 results with those of 2000. Because there are more than 250 cities and towns in New Hampshire, I'll do the comparison by counties, although county lines break up various metro areas. I'm ordering the counties by percentage for Gore in 2000 and showing the Bradley 2000, Clinton 2008, and Obama 2008 percentages and the percentage leads of the Gore/Clinton candidates.

  Gore Bradley   Clinton Obama  
Statewide 49.7 45.6 +4.1 39.1 36.5 +2.6
Coos 57.2 35.3 +21.9 42.3 28.6 +13.7
Strafford 52.2 42.8 +9.4 40.7 34.1 +6.6
Hillsborough 51.7 44.1 +7.6 42.0 34.8 +7.2
Merrimack 50.5 44.9 +5.6 35.9 37.9 -2.0
Rockingham 48.8 45.9 +2.9 42.0 34.7 +7.3
Cheshire 48.4 46.4 +2.0 33.8 39.2 -5.4
Sullivan 48.3 44.3 +4.0 35.8 39.8 -4.0
Belknap 47.5 45.4 +2.1 37.3 37.0 +0.3
Carroll 45.8 49.7 -3.9 34.4 40.1 -5.7
Grafton 39.8 55.4 -15.6 31.7 45.3 -13.6

The continuity here is not perfect, but it's a lot higher than you usually see in primaries. It's as if there were two well-established factions in the Democratic Party. It's especially striking, since Democratic turnout in New Hampshire increased by 87 percent between 2000 and 2008, from 154,000 to 287,000.

The good news is that the Gore-Bradley race provides a good benchmark for the Clinton-Obama race. The bad news is that Bradley dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary. Under that year's schedule, there was an interval of five weeks—weeks, not days—between New Hampshire and the next contest, and Bradley, despite losing by only 4 points in New Hampshire, could not keep his campaign alive for that period of time. So there are no future contests in which we can forecast the outcome by looking back at the 2000 race.