Guest Opinion: Face the facts – N.H. is bluer than blue

New Hampshire is a blue state, and those Republicans who blame the result on increased turnout and voter fraud are, judging by the empirical data, in a state of denial. The key to John Kerry’s victory in New Hampshire was “moral values.”

Americans voted by a 51 percent to 48 percent majority for George W. Bush. New Hampshire, in contrast, went for Kerry by a margin of 50 percent to 49 percent, essentially flipping the 2000 results, when Bush beat Gore by 7,211 votes, or 1.3 percent. However, the 2000 results included 22,198 votes for Nader, which if added to Gore’s total would have given him a larger margin of victory than Kerry’s. New Hampshire was a red state in 2000 only because of Nader’s green.

Nationally, increased turnout favored Bush. His total votes were up 18 percent from 2000, while Kerry’s were up just 10 percent from Al Gore’s. In New Hampshire, it was a different story. While Bush’s votes were up by 21 percent, Kerry’s votes were up by a whopping 28 percent over Gore’s. When the 2000 votes for Nader are counted for Gore, the increase is 18 percent, which is still far better than Kerry did nationally.

While some Republicans have claimed voter fraud caused Bush to lose the state, to this point they haven’t been able to present any evidence. Legal transplants from Massachusetts can’t be blamed for Bush’s loss, either. According to MSNBC exit polling, they voted 52 percent to 48 percent for Bush. Natives of New Hampshire, on the other hand, went for Kerry by a margin of 50 percent to 49 percent.

Nationally, 22 percent of voters said that “moral values” was the most important issue, with the “economy/jobs” second at 20 percent, followed by “terrorism” at 19 percent and “Iraq” at 15 percent. Of those voters who said “moral values” was most important, 80 percent supported Bush. “Economy/jobs” voters favored Kerry by the same margin. “Terrorism” and “Iraq” followed the same pattern, with Bush getting the support of 86 percent of the voters who said “terrorism” and Kerry getting 73 percent of the voters who said “Iraq.”

Voters in New Hampshire had nearly the opposite priorities. At the top of the list was “Iraq,” which 26 percent of voters said was the most important issue. “Terrorism” was next at 22 percent. “Moral values” was the most important issue to only 17 percent of New Hampshire voters, while the “economy/jobs” was last at 15 percent. Kerry’s and Bush’s numbers in New Hampshire on the issues of “Iraq,” “terrorism” and the “economy/jobs,” were similar to what they received nationally. Bush, however, received support from only 67 percent of voters in New Hampshire who said that “moral values” was the most important issue.

Thus Kerry appears to have prevailed in New Hampshire for two reasons. First, “Iraq,” an issue on which he apparently cleaned Bush’s clock, was a far more important issue locally than nationally. Second, “moral values,” an issue on which Kerry apparently got his clock cleaned by Bush, was a much less important issue locally than nationally, and Kerry did far better on the values issue in New Hampshire than he did nationally.

The contrast between New Hampshire and states that were blue in 2000 but went red in 2004 is striking. In Iowa, 22 percent of voters said the “moral values” was the most important issue, and 87 percent of those voters supported Bush. In New Mexico, 23 percent of voters said that “moral values” was the most important issue, and Bush was supported by 80 percent of these voters.

New Hampshire resembles California, of all places. There, 23 percent of voters said that “Iraq” was the top concern, followed by “terrorism” in second pace at 20 percent, “moral values” third at 17 percent and the “economy/jobs” last with 16 percent, which are the same order of priority as in New Hampshire and very similar percentages. And on the issue of “moral values,” California voters chose Bush by a margin of 70 percent to 29 percent, which while less than Bush’s edge nationally, was better than he did here, which I suppose makes us bluer than blue.

Ed Mosca is a Manchester attorney and former chairman of that city’s Republican Party.

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