Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Snacking on crunchy New Hampshire numbers

All across punditry and blog-land lips and fingers are moving and the same questions are being asked...

What happened last night?

How did she "come back" to win?

Various theories are being offered up. Some based on facts and others *** cough *** Chris *** cough *** Matthews *** cough *** cough *** based on bullshit.

The fun thing about numbers is that they can tell multiple stories depending on which ones you look at, in what combinations and with what weights you view them. Multiple conclusions can be drawn from them that are not all necessarily wrong or even in conflict with each other.

The fun thing about bullshit is that it starts as bullshit, comes across as bullshit, remains bullshit and produces nothing other than more bullshit.

We'll stick to numbers from here on out...

First up... Democrats won last night. Republicans lost. All the numbers say so. No matter in what order or combination they are crunched.

The American public is repudiating Republicanism in a major way.

With all but 1 precinct reporting:

Hillary Clinton (D)- 112,238 (21.35%)
Barack Obama (D)- 104,757 (19.93%)
John McCain (R)- 88,447 (16.83%)
Mitt Romney (R)- 75,202 (14.31%)
John Edwards (D)- 48,666 9.26%)
Mike Huckabee (R)- 26,760 (5.09%)
Rudy Giuliani (R)- 20,387 (3.88%)
Ron Paul (R)- 18,276 (3.48%)
Bill Richardson (D)- 13,245 (2.52%)

Democrats 287,275 or 54.65%
Republicans 238,343 or 45.35%

(which includes the 41 votes for Republican candidate "Vermin Supreme")

Booman points out to us that Democratic turn-out was up 31% from 2004. An increase of about 67,500 votes which in turn was an increase of about 65,000 from 2000.

Meanwhile, Republican turn-out this year is almost exactly the identical to their last contest presidential primary in 2000. They have shown no increase whatsoever and in fact experienced a decrease of about 7% in independent voters.

Head to head Hillary Clinton beat John McCain 55.93% to 44.07%. Likewise, Barack Obama beat John McCain head to head 54.22% to 45.78%.

Overall 61.78% or 525,618 voters out of 850,836 turned out for the primary. Just over one third, 33.76% turned out for Democratic candidates while a little over a quarter, 28.01%, turned out for the Republican primary (including those diehard Vermin Supreme supporters).

The following numbers are approximate based on data from multiple sources and the use of my trusty calculator.

There are 850,836 enrolled voters in New Hampshire, 26% or 221,217 Democrats. 30% or 255,251 Republicans. 44% or 374,368 independents.

On the Democratic side there were 287,275 voters of which 52% (149,383) were Democrats and 42% (120,656) were Independents. I gather New Hampshire has same day enrollment because exit polls state that 6% of voters were unregistered.

On the Republican side there were 238,343 voters of which 61% (145,389) were Republicans and 34% (81,036) were Independents with 5% unregistered voters.

Overall Independents turned out at 53.88% or 38.37% of voters. Democrats turned out at 67.53% or 28.42% of voters. And Republicans turned out at 56.96% or 27.66% of all primary voters.

Independent voters turned out for Democrats at 59.82% and Republicans at 40.18% I am told that "this was the first time since the establishment of the modern New Hampshire primary system that more people voted in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary when both were contested". Not only more but much, much more.

By the way, the DSCC is happy to point out that 50,000 more voters turned out in the Democratic Primary this year (287,275) then voted for Sen. John Sununu in the 2002 general election (227,229). Mr. Sununu is up for re-election this fall and this plus the strong Democratic trends in New Hampshire (both House seats went to Democratic challengers in 2006) do not bode well for his re-election chances. A note of caution however, 434,847 voters re-elected Sen. Judd Gregg in the last Presidential year 2004.

Democrats won almost as resoundingly in New Hampshire as they did in Iowa a few days before.

So... what happened? Why did Hillary Clinton defeat Barack Obama when the polling numbers showed Obama bouncing out of Iowa to a 9-10 point lead in New Hampshire?

Bottom line? Barack Obama never led in New Hampshire.

CNN exit polls tell the tale.

34% of voters in the Democratic primary made up their minds over a month ago. This comes out to:
Clinton: 46,883
Obama: 30,279

17% decided in the last month.
Clinton: 16,604 (running total: 63,487)
Obama: 21,488 (total: 51,767)

10% decided in the last week.
Clinton: 8,044 (71,531)
Obama: 12,353 (64,120)

21% decided in the last 3 days.
Clinton: 20,511 (92,042)
Obama: 22,321 (86,441)

17% decided on election day.
Clinton: 19,046 (111,088)
Obama: 17,581 (104,022)

Actual totals:
Clinton: 112,238
Obama: 104,757

These breakdowns show clearly that Obama was closing and received a post-Iowa bounce. They also show that Clinton had a strong bastion of early support and Obama's bounce was never enough to overtake it.

Punditry claims that Hillary Clinton received her own bounce due to be attacked by Edwards/Obama in the last debate or due to the crying incident or some other form of sympathy vote are not born out here. The slight advantage she shows in election day decisions was not what made the difference. Her early strong start was.

So where did that support come from? Women.

57% of voters in the Democratic primary were women. Clinton received 75,324 votes or 46% of the female vote according to exit polls. Unmarried women made up 22% of the democratic electorate of which she garnered 51% of the voters. Married women made up 33% of the electorate and she garnered 45% of them. In other words Clinton received roughly 25,000 more votes from women then Barack Obama did. She defeated him by about 7,500 votes total.

Age breakdowns are also interesting though not decisive. Hillary outpolled Obama in all age categories except the 18-24 and 30-39 brackets. She outdid him in the 25-29 bracket and a case could be made that this is where she beat him.

If you total Clinton's vote by age bracket from 65+ on down she reaches Obama's vote total of over 104,000 in the 25-29 bracket. Barack outperformed her strongly amongst the youngest age group (18-24) but it didn't matter because she had already beaten him by the time you get there.

Another factor supporting the strong early support theory is the exit polling data that shows 73% of Democrats strongly favored their choice while 23% had reservations about their choice and only 3% were driven by dislike of other candidates.

Clinton outperformed Obama amongst strong supporters 40% to 36% while 41% of Obama voters had reservations about him compared to 37% of Clinton supporters.

One very interesting issue related number seems to rebut conventional wisdom.

43% of Democratic voters favor withdrawal of troops from Iraq as soon as possible. Of those 41% voted for Clinton to 34% for Obama.

51% of Democratic voters favor a gradual withdrawal. Clinton and Obama virtually tied in this group with 40% for Obama and 39% for Clinton.

5% of Democrats prefer keeping troops in Iraq longer and of them 51% favor Obama to only 24% for Clinton.

38% of Democratic voters ranked the economy as their top issue and Clinton won amongst those voters 44% - 35% over Obama. Several more detailed breakdowns of economic circumstances and issues supported this result that voters saw Clinton as better on the economy then Obama.

For those listed Iraq as their top issue (31%) Obama did better, 44% to 35%. This might seem at odds with the previous numbers at first but is not when you consider most Democratic voters preferred a gradual withdrawal or longer stay in Iraq and those voters favored Obama.

Clinton and Obama essentially tied, 37% - 38%, amongst the 27% of Democratic voters for whom Health care was the biggest issue.

Lastly, an interesting breakdown of 58% who felt issues were more important than the 39% who felt personal qualities were more important. Clinton scored 39% - 34% over Obama amongst those interested mostly in issues while Obama led 45% to 37% amongst those that felt personal qualities were more important. This goes directly to the perception of Clinton as the more experienced and serious politician and reflects Obama's personal charisma and rhetoric as well.

A few other interesting tidbits to consider. Hillary Clinton won amongst those that felt the debates were important to making their decision. This might indicate that she did well in the last debate.

As Chris Bowers points out Clinton also led amongst those "angry" with the Bush administration (62% of Democrats) by about 9,000 votes or her margin of victory. Chris believes this is the winning coalition for her. While the number matches I'm unconvinced this was the deciding factor. The time breakdown of strong early and female support... which may well coincide with anti-Bush anger... speaks louder to me.

What is interesting to me is that the candidate that is often perceived as the least liberal candidate, the most in support of the Iraq war, and often, unjustly, accused of being Republican-lite is the one that received the strongest anti-war and angry-at-bush vote. Clinton also defeated Obama across the liberal-moderate-conservative spectrum though by only a point or two in each category.

And in one final note debunking the "sympathy" theory. The exit polls also asked about perceptions of who ran the most "unfair" campaign. The 22% that felt Clinton had run the most unfair campaign were equaled by the 11% each that felt Edwards or Obama had. The breakdown on those votes favored Obama significantly.

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