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Granite Myth?

Are Independent voters really that important in the state?
Well, it depends on whom you ask…..

According to Andy Smith, director of University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, and Dante Scala, political scientist at UNH, the “independent voter bloc” is largely a myth. The undeclared voters have distributed evenly in both parties while the legitimate independents comprise a much smaller group. Independents won’t make or break any candidates campaign; it’s much more important to just gain support in your own party says Smith (Kroll, 2012).

In January, this was particularly evident as the GOP field was still pretty large. With socially conservative candidates like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney with a home-field advantage, and independent favorites Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, there may have been more independents/undeclared voters voting, but they did not have an overwhelming impact for any one candidate. Exit polling showed that 47% identified as Independent and of them, 22% went with Huntsman, 31% for Paul, and 30% for Romney.

However, the numbers of independents have consistently risen and outnumbered Democrats and Republicans according to Gallup polls. While the independents generally align with one party or another, there are more of them now because of the poor economy and the widespread dissatisfaction with government.

Todd Eberly, a professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, believes independents “absolutely sway elections.” This is especially true in NH where they will not be overwhelmed by one party or another in the state’s open primary (Khan, 2012).

Independent voters watching a debate at a Ron Paul Rally in Manchester, N.H.
Photo by Meagan Shamberger

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