EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Election Connection

November 4, 2012

N.H. expects record turnout, close races

Record turnout anticipated on Tuesday

(Continued)

Republican blogger Steve Vaillancourt in early October projected a 201-198 GOP advantage. Democratic blogger William Tucker last week projected the Democrats with 184 of the 400 seats.

Any of those outcomes would imperil the controversial speakership of Republican William O’Brien, should he win his own re-election campaign in Mont Vernon. Voters appear ready for change in Concord. Only 42 percent approved of the Legislature in UNH polling.

Tight race, ballot blowout

Election outcomes through New Hampshire history establish 2012 as potentially the closest finish ever.

In the six tightest presidential contests since 1900 – 1916, 1948, 1960, 1968, 1976 and 2000 – New Hampshire voters have delivered at least one blowout, with a margin of 8 percent or better, down the ballot in a race for governor, U.S. Senate or Congress.

There’s probably a reason for the close races this time, Southern New Hampshire University political science professor Dean Spiliotes said.

“It’s probably a symptom of the volatility in the state and polarization of the electorate,” he said.

These days, the candidates are on the left or the right, not so much in the middle, with voters forced to move to one side or the other in a close election like this one, he said.

“New Hampshire is not an island. When you have an election at the national level that looks 50-50,” UNH political science professor Dante Scala said, “you end up with a presidential race in New Hampshire that is close to that.”

New Hampshire is the Democratic leaning bellwether it has been for 20 years now, Scala said.

But there are local factors at play, too.

“If John Lynch is running against Ovide Lamontagne, I don’t think it’s that close,” Scala said.

Spiliotes said everything is too close to call. Obama might have a razor’s edge in the electoral college and how he does will drive a lot of what happens down the ballot, he said.

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