Newswise — Frank Cohen, a political science professor at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., is watching closely as the road to the White House winds through his backyard in advance of the January 8, 2008 New Hampshire primary. Cohen is an excellent source on how the candidates' campaign messages are being perceived by voters--registered Republicans, Democrats and Independents--in cities, towns and rural corners of the Granite State.
He can also offer insights on New Hampshire's changing population, new demographics in cities and towns and "the evolving electorate" in New Hampshire.
Cohen emphasizes that New Hampshire has shifted from a "red" state to a "blue" state on the political map in recent years, largely because of the influx of population to the cities of its Southeast corner and because of the shift in key issues nationally among the GOP. "It's actually sort of a 'purple' state right now, and will continue to be as newcomers move into other regions of the state outside of the main population cluster of Nashua, Manchester and the Seacoast due to the emphasis on tourism or retirement."
This population shift, he observes, will eventually change those non-Southeastern regions politically.
He says the state will no doubt retain the "purple state" moniker for a long time to come. What will keep New Hampshire from becoming a solid "blue state" like its neighbors? "Many of the state's newcomers possess some degree of 'live-free-or-die' brand of libertarianism," he observes, "and a good number of them have also grown accustomed to New Hampshire-style tax policy by now."
Professor Cohen says the state's Republican traditions still run very deep; they are generational and remain strong among many registered voters.
"Republican candidates will rebound eventually with New Hampshire voters but not in these upcoming 2008 elections," he says. "When they do rebound—and I believe they will—it will never be to the point of domination, like it was for most of the 20th century."