The Washington Post has a great feature today called “Political Geography” (which some of you might know was the original name for this blog). The Post provides a map of New Hampshire and explains which pockets of the state each candidate must target in order to do well. According to the Post:
- Rudy Giuliani could do well in the North Country where images of candidates are mostly formed by their time on TV and where his “tough-guy” mantra works.
- Ron Paul‘s libertarian message could mesh with the state’s “Live Free of Die” ethos in many areas.
- John McCain is expected to do well in Merrimack, Concord and Cheshire Counties, where he racked up big margins in 2000 (more on that below).
- Mitt Romney needs do run up the vote in the Boston burbs of southern New Hampshire, where Massachusetts transplants have emigrated for lower taxes.
- John Edwards could find support in Grafton County, which was the only county won by both Howard Dean (2004) and Bill Bradley (2000) .
- Barack Obama should expect love in the “better-off” burbs surrounding Manchester and on the Seacoast, as well as towns in the western part of the state.
- Hillary Clinton might pick up support in the blue-collar and traditional Democratic towns.
Next, I think it’s helpful to look at past returns to predict who will do well in which towns today. Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections is a great resource for data, although it could use a better color scheme.
In this particular map of New Hampshire towns in the 2004 Democratic primary, John Kerry is red, Dean is purple and Wesley Clark is blue. The redder the town, the higher percentage for Kerry. We can see that proximity to home states made a big difference, as Kerry did well in the south and east on the Massachusetts border and Dean did better in the west nearer to Vermont.
Let’s reach even further back to the 2000 New Hampshire primary between Al Gore and Bill Bradley. This one is a little more dicey for me, but I’m going to hypothesize that Gore had more appeal in the traditional Democratic cities and in the burbs while Bradley was more popular in the college towns like Hanover and in more libertarian pockets.
Expect Clinton do well in the same locales that Gore did well in, and for Obama (not necessarily Edwards as the Post suggested) to excel where Bradley won.
In the 2000 New Hampshire GOP battle, John McCain won every county and a vast majority of towns on his way to upseting George W. Bush. McCain did well throughout the state but best in the west, while the Texan Bush got an all-around thumpin.’ Expect fellow southerner Mike Huckabee to have an equally lackluster day.
On this map, McCain is green and Bush is blue.