Skip to comments.Is New Hampshire Fit to Pick a President?
Posted on 01/10/2012 4:05:41 AM PST by Kaslin
NASHUA, N.H. -- Is New Hampshire too white, too old and too godless to play a key role in selecting the next president?
"The rap on Iowa: It doesn't represent the rest of the country -- too white, too evangelical, too rural," NBC's Andrea Mitchell famously said shortly before the Jan. 3 caucuses. Other critics called Iowa too old.
If such concerns about Iowa are legitimate, then so are concerns about New Hampshire. For example, the first-in-the-nation primary state is actually whiter than Iowa. According to the 2010 census, New Hampshire is 93.9 percent white, 2.8 percent Hispanic and 1.1 percent black, while Iowa is a virtual rainbow at 91.3 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic and 2.9 percent black.
As far as age is concerned, both states have higher-than-national-average numbers of residents above retirement age. In New Hampshire, 13.5 percent of the population is 65 or older; in Iowa, it's 14.9 percent. Not a lot of difference.
As far as rural is concerned, yes, Iowa is full of farms. But New Hampshire isn't exactly a great urban center. In fact, the primary and caucus path does not lead to any really big cities until the Florida primary on Jan. 31.
Then there is religion. During the run-up to Iowa, pundits talked endlessly about Iowa's evangelical Christians. Are they too conservative to pick a president? Are their views on social issues too extreme? Are they really representative of the country as a whole?
Many of the questions were ill-informed. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey," Iowa is, in fact, slightly less evangelical than the rest of the country: 24 percent of Iowans are evangelicals, while 26 percent of Americans are.
Iowa does have a higher percentage of mainline Protestants than the rest of the country. So when one combines the evangelical and mainline strands, Iowa is more Protestant (54 percent) than the rest of the country, which is 44 percent combined evangelical and mainline.
And New Hampshire? Its combined number is 34 percent, meaning the state is less Protestant than the rest of the country by about the same margin that Iowa is more Protestant. Will pundits see that as a problem?
There is one big difference between the two states, and that is the number of people who have no religious affiliation. According to Pew, about 15 percent of Iowans say they have no affiliation -- nearly right on the national average of 16 percent. But in New Hampshire, 26 percent have no religious affiliation -- well above the national average.
So is New Hampshire just too godless to pick a president? Of course not. States differ in their balance of faith and non-faith, and when you add up the early voting states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada -- you get a pretty good mix. New Hampshire is as qualified as any to make a political statement. But it will be interesting to see if commentators who fretted about Iowa's religiosity will be equally concerned about New Hampshire's non-religiosity.
In the heat of a campaign, it's difficult to speak with much subtlety about the role religion plays in voting. The entrance polls measure religion very crudely, says John C. Green, professor of politics at the University of Akron and a top authority on evangelicals in politics. A lot of the evangelicals in Iowa may belong to mainline Protestant churches or even be Catholic.
Many such distinctions were lost in the punditry. Also, the statistics above describe each state's entire population, not just its most politically active residents. Which means that, yes, lots of political activists are evangelicals. But lots of evangelicals aren't active in politics.
Finally, there was a lot of bias in the pundits' descriptions of Iowa and conservatives in general. A number of commentators are alarmed to see conservative evangelicals in great numbers playing a key role in politics, and out of that concern, they ask whether Iowa is too evangelical. New Hampshire is a little more moderate, so the religion question doesn't occur to them.
Also, most pundits live in the Northeast or in Washington, so New Hampshire seems almost in the neighborhood. Really, what's the problem?
My wife is from New Hampshire.
As long as I have known her and thats about 22 years I rarely see her make a long range intelligent decision.
She just has no vision other than a herd instinct.
lets get a US constitutional amendment to have all state, US Presidential selection votes (primaries/caucus/magic 8 ball, whatever) to occur on the same day.
I am sick of tired of having the vote come to NY with the candidate already picked(for the most part). This ticks me off every election cycle.
No religious affiliation does NOT mean someone is necessarily godless. It means they don't seek Him inside an organization and/or a building.
Five ten state primary dates on a rotation.
Two north, two south, two east, two west, and two central.
I think it would be great to change it up some and have a different state beginning the process. However, it would still have to be a small, cheap advertising state or smaller candidates will not be able to compete. I mean if we start with Florida that would be a disaster because of the very high cost of advertising. South Carolina would not be a bad state to begin with but I think their advertising is expensive too.
exactly or all 50 states must be contested, not one or two then dropouts. Everyone should get a chance to vote on all candidates.
You judge an entire state by YOUR wife? :-) Hey, she married you, didn't she? New Hampshire is hardly the only state in the union to produce a person with herd instincts and no vision. My advice is to get out and meet a few other folks from New Hampshire.
You think that is any different than in any other state? LMAO!
why not all on the same day???
The answer is NO, but not for the reasons mentioned in the article.
New Hampshire’s problems are that it is an open primary state, permitting Independents and crossover Democrats to vote and that there are minimal residency requirements, allowing college students and residents from neighboring states to register and vote the same day.
Sometimes I don’t think any of the states are capable of picking a suitable president. Look at all the poor choices so many have made just for the U.S. Senate. It’s the American people who repeatedly let us down.
I agree on getting the primaries all on the same day. Think about how much time, money, and energy has been expended by GOP candidates in Iowa and NH and then think about how these states normally vote in the general elections. Uhuh......this is madness is it not?
I agree. A friend of mine many years ago said something to the effect that the average John Q American was too uninformed to make intelligent decisions with respect to governance.
Not if they plan on picking Romney. Americans just don’t like Romney!
Are you saying we should do away with the caucuses and primaries and just do the general election?
That sounds really good...!! We NEED to change the system and we have to use our voice to get it changed!!!!
I think giving people a week or so to think about things between primary dates is a good idea. Plus candidates may decide to drop out after 1, 2, or 3 dates.
In any case this crap we have now is a mess. The media is talking like the race will be over today after a fraction of a percent of Americans get to vote.
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