Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Hampshire Results

Reading the NYTimes' election guide, that lists who voted for whom and noticing some very interesting things.

First, age. Look at the difference of voters under 24 and those over 65. Voters under 24 went for Obama 60% and Clinton 22% while those over 65 went for Clinton 48% to 32%. They make up a similar portion of the overall voters in the state (11% to 13%), but what interests me is how divergent those numbers are. Younger people haven't been voting -- it's the bane of most pundits who suggest younger people (hey, which no longer includes me - I'm in the second category :->) are disinterested by politics. These numbers (and the fact they were similar in Iowa) suggest it is not the political process that dissuades many young voters, but the sense that nothing changes no matter whom you elect. But Obama has a message that suggests we can look at things differently. I would like him to win just to see whether he can really put that across. And I don't really buy that experience thing -- after all, can he really screw up more than Bush has?! There's a huge difference in a few faux pas and invading a few countries after all. But, to return to the numbers, except in that 25-29 year old category (that's a weird break up, btw) where Clinton had a narrow 2% lead over Obama, voters under 40 resoundingly chose Obama to Clinton. The voters over 40, who make up the majority of the voters in New Hampshire, resoundingly chose Clinton. Though not as resoundingly as young voters went for Clinton.

We talked in the last election about the red state/blue state divide -- is the latest divide, at least among Democrats, between young and old? Do these numbers suggest that this issue is more than just a greater effort to get out the vote, but more endemic and fundamental? That young and old in this country are seeing things dramatically differently? But then a lot of "older" voters (sorry, I don't really mean it quite that way!) aren't voting for Clinton either. The divide can't be this simple, but it's also not non-existent.

It wouldn't surprise me. After all, anyone over 40 can count on (or is currently using) Social Security. I seriously doubt that it will be around by the time I retire and I'm making plans to not need it. (I also don't resent the money I give to SS b/c, quite frankly, it's been 0 for the last 5 years: when I was a teacher they pulled out money to a separate IRA which I can rollover since I didn't continue teaching and as a student, well I don't make enough money for them to take it out even if we weren't exempt.) I wonder what else divides the ages in this country. And do these numbers extend to the Republican side of the debate?

The rest of the numbers are rather bland. I could talk about the "female factor" but then I'd have to delve into Steinman's article in the NYTimes yesterday which basically said women should vote for Clinton because she's qualified and female. (Which incidentally strikes me as being rather un-feminist, at least the way I read feminism, which is something I've been thinking about a lot recently. But shouldn't women be encouraged to think for themselves rather than vote according to gender?!)

I did find it interesting that people who's income was less than $50K resoundingly voted for Clinton, when I think Obama is much more interested in poverty. But then it struck me that retirees might make under $50K thus for New Hampshire skewing the statistics a bit. But, those who feel they are getting behind financially also voted more for Clinton thus it must be a combination of the two. In fact, when asked which three issues matter most: economy, health care and Iraq, more people who voted for Clinton thought the economy mattered most.

Wait, these numbers get better: if Bill Clinton could run today: those who voted for Obama would vote for him again, but those who voted for Hilary would vote for her husband. Does this suggest nostalgia for the good old days?

In short, these numbers suggest good things to me. First, even if Obama doesn't win (and I've been known to suggest that he's not yet ready -- though the more I see of Hilary the more I don't care) this election, more younger voters will probably mean he can win the next. Second, his message is striking many people, whether young or old and Hilary didn't sweep New Hampshire -- she took it by a few percentage points. I don't know enough about New Hampshire to determine how much it's the pulse of the nation, but it seems that some of the places where Obama does particularly well are featured elsewhere more prominently.

No comments: