July 29, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Swing State Winds Blow Both Ways in N.H.

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Tom Williams/Roll Call
Rep.-elect Frank Guinta

New Hampshire voters, who flew “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flags before it was tea-party trendy, have some things in common. They are largely white, make more money and are better educated than the national average, according to census data.

“New Hampshire voters are smart,” Guinta said. “Look, I’m one of them. We take it seriously. And I think we survey the challenges and make decisions based on whose willing to make tough, rational, reasonable and difficult decisions.”

Longtime pollster Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, thinks the power of independents in the Granite State is exaggerated.

“It’s an absolute myth. But it’s such a good myth, it keeps getting repeated,” he said.

Smith’s research shows that most unaffiliated voters are really partisans; about 40 percent lean Democratic and 30 percent lean Republican. They also vote in much smaller numbers and pay less attention than the party-affiliated.

Smith said the results of recent wave elections are simply a matter of voter mobilization. Democrats had an 11-point voter turnout advantage in 2006, while unaffiliated voters narrowly broke for Democrats in that cycle.

It was far different this year, where Republicans had a 2-point turnout advantage and unaffiliated voters broke nearly 2-to-1 for Republicans, Smith said.

“It’s all about turnout,” he said, insisting the state is trending Democratic. “Democrats are moving here. And Republicans are moving to Florida or dying.”

Guinta and Bass acknowledge they may have challenging races in 2012 in the always-shifting Granite State. The White House has already reached out to both Democratic losers, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and Anne McLane Kuster, encouraging them to run again.

Shea-Porter told Roll Call last week that she is considering another bid. And the New Hampshire Democratic Party said Kuster has already decided to run again.

The incoming Congressmen, however, said they have work to do before looking at re-election.

“I don’t care about being a Congressman. I’ve done that,” Bass said. “I ran because I think I can make a real contribution in a relatively short period of time to change America. And that’s going to be my focus. And if I keep that focus, I’m not going to have a problem getting elected next year. If people support what I’m doing, that’s what matters.”

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