NH-Sen: Tuesday's Primary Numbers Bode Well for Democrats
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 04:58:33 PM EST
Tuesday night was not only a big night in the race for the White House, it was also a big night in the race to extend the Democrats' narrowest of narrow majorities in the United States Senate.
Taking a look back through last night's numbers there are a lot of good omens for former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, the leading Democratic challenger to freshman Republican Senator John Sununu this cycle. Overall last night, about 280,000 voters participated in the Democratic presidential primary while roughly 230,000 voters participated in the Republican contest. This marked the first time in the modern era that more voters participated in the Democratic primary than the Republican one when both were contested.
It also marked a major swing from even just the 2006 midterms, which were also great for the Democrats. During that cycle, the Democrats gained the trifecta (the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature) for the first time since 1874, and also picked up both of the state's two congressional seats, the first election in which they had done so since 1912. Looking at the statewide, two-party vote for Congress, the two Democratic challengers racked up 209,434 votes compared with the 189,615 votes received by the Republican incumbents. Comparing these numbers with the numbers from last night, the Democrats got about one-third more votes in the presidential primary than they did in November 2006 while the Republicans got just about 21 percent more votes than they did in the prior election.
Breaking the turnout numbers into percentages, about 54.9 percent of those voting last night voted in the Democratic primary while just 45.1 percent voted in the Republican primary. This compares with the 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent pro-Democratic spread from the 2006 midterms, again suggesting significant more growth on the Democratic side than on the Republican side.
Looking now at the exit poll data, it looks like an estimated 123,000 or so independent voters participated in the Democratic primary last night. This number compares with the roughly 85,000 independent voters estimated to have participated in the Republican primary. Looking at these numbers as percentages, about 59.2 percent of independents voting last night did so in the Democratic primary while just 40.8 percent voted in the Republican primary.
Broad trends alone do not an election victory make. That said, the nation as a whole is less Republican-friendly than it was during the very Republican-friendly 2002 cycle, and New Hampshire is certainly more Democratic than it was that year -- and seemingly even more Democratic than it was during the very pro-Democratic cycle we saw in 2006. Again, this does not ensure a victory for Shaheen. Nevertheless, it does give her a great base upon which to run next fall and it gives the Democrats nationally a great opportunity in their effort to grow their majority in the Senate.