First in the Nation
More than half a million people are expected to participate in the New Hampshire 2016 Presidential Primary. The time-honored symbol of the primary is the laconic Yankee with deep ancestral roots in the state, who dismisses fourth-generation residents as newcomers. Certainly such voters exist, but in reality most Granite State residents arrived only recently. In fact, New Hampshire’s population is among the most mobile in the nation. Only a third of New Hampshire residents age 25 and older were born in the state. Such migration, coupled with the natural change in the population as young voters come of age and older generations of voters pass from the scene, has produced considerable turnover in the voting population. More than 30 percent of potential voters this year were either not old enough to vote in 2008, or resided somewhere other than New Hampshire. Such demographic turnover contributes to the changing political landscape of the state, which has important implications both for the Presidential Primary and the November general election.
Two powerful demographic forces are reshaping the New Hampshire electorate. The first is migration. New Hampshire has one of the most mobile populations in the nation. Only 45 percent of the population residing in New Hampshire was born in the state. In contrast, nationwide 68 percent of the U.S.–born population resides in the state in which they were born. Only five states and the District of Columbia have a smaller proportion of their native born population living in their state of birth than New Hampshire. Among those 25 and older, who make up the bulk of the voting age population, just 33 percent of New Hampshire residents were born in the state.