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How Many Independents Vote in New Hampshire?

I've been in San Francisco (nice city) for two days, and never found a moment to post anything. But I've had a few small questions and observations bubbling up.

A couple times I've mentioned the role of independents in the New Hampshire primary, and how they could actually be causing Clark's support to be underestimated in the tracking polls. But I was curious: just how many independents could one expect to vote in this primary? Here's what I figured out from the 2000 results, and the exit polls.

In 2000, 147,000 votes were cast in the Democratic primary. According to exit polls, 65% of those voters said they were registered Democrats. So assume about 51,000 were not registered in a party. They voted about 60-40 for Bradley over Gore.

In the Republican primary, 230,000 votes were cast. The exit polls found 63% were Republicans, so figure about 85,000 votes in that primary were cast by independents, who voted 3:1 for McCain.

There is no Republican primary this year. So, potentially, all 135,000 independents who voted in the two primaries four years ago might vote in the Democratic primary, which would be a fairly overwhelming force. That's unlikely to happen. But let's say a candidate such as Clark were to tap the energy that motivated independents to vote for McCain. Even if just 40,000 of the independents who previously voted in the GOP primary -- less than half -- and another half of the independents who had voted in the Democratic primary in the past came in again and voted for Clark, that's 65,000 votes even before he gets a single vote from a Democrat. Adding the 40,000 ex-McCain independents to the Democratic total, that would be good for 34% right there.

So why does anyone think attacking Clark as "not a real Democrat" is a good idea, at least in New Hampshire? It's exactly what these independents, who want less partisanship, want to hear.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on January 13, 2004 | Permalink


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good point.

clark, being a 4-star general and all, might actually hold special appeal for this enigmatic group of voters.

Posted by: bluedot | Jan 14, 2004 4:08:13 AM

I would say that Howard Dean has as good or better shot at appealing to voters that McCain and Bradley appealed to. His campaign reminds me of McCains in someways. Except the part about having money and broad support.

Posted by: Marc Brazeau | Jan 14, 2004 5:23:13 AM

Clark supporters, I need to hear why you think he's worth voting for besides the idea that he's electable. Point me to an URL that's not from the campaign. Because Bush is more electable than any of them according to current polls, but that doesn't mean I'm going to vote for him.

Why would I be happy if independents vote a lifelong moderate Republican into the Democratic candidacy for president? Why is this supposed to be a good thing?

Posted by: Alx Dark | Jan 14, 2004 1:22:43 PM

I'll make no electability arguments, just my own judgements.

Because Clark's domestic positions are right in the pack as the other Dems. He's sufficiently proven to me that if he was ever a Republican in spirit (technically he never was an R), he was extremely moderate. And what's wrong with being moderate when the times are conservative?

Clark has excellent judgement and a keen analytical mind. He has superior foreign policy experience than the rest, even to Kerry. And foreign policy is far more difficult to master than domestic issues.

Personally, I like him and his optimistic personality. He has the broad international life experience in a time when this is crucially important both geopolitically and economically.

Any other candidate would struggle for a year or two to get his bearings in foreign policy. If Dean is President, he'd have to rely on his own judgement in choosing direction from his advisors. And his own judgement in these fields is entirely unproven. There are many more good domestic policy advisors available than foreign. Large governing advantage to Clark, IMO.

There - are you suprised that I didn't have to resort to posting a link? Or quoting somebody? There is much substance to his campaign, and I've found his supporters on the web to be the most thoughtful of all. (of course, there are some yahoos in every camp)

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry | Jan 14, 2004 2:18:10 PM

Sorry - I misread your intent. In a quick scan I thought you wanted my own opinion.

Read this one, it's excellent: http://www.ospolitics.org/usa/archives/2003/11/26/how_i_beca.php

Check this blog for what I think is the best pro-Clark material: www.markarkleiman.com.

Also good is www.calpundit.com

Best electability arguments: digbysblog.blogspot.com

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry | Jan 14, 2004 2:26:30 PM

Independents are a HUGE factor in New Hampshire and they don't favor Dean. Have you seen the reports about push polling of independents in that state misinforming them that they are not eligible to vote? Somebody is trying to suppress turnout. Who?


Posted by: Ed Thibodeau | Jan 15, 2004 1:58:55 AM

BPS, thanks. I'm checking these out.

Posted by: Alx Dark | Jan 15, 2004 3:10:08 PM

Alx Dark:

Here's another good link for you:


Posted by: paperbag | Jan 19, 2004 5:48:04 PM

Another excellent site:


in particular, read this article from the site:


Posted by: | Jan 19, 2004 6:34:13 PM


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