Category: Politics and Elections

Resource Category Topic Type
Beyond Urban Versus Rural
In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, commentators focused on the political polarization separating residents of urban and rural America. Certainly rural–urban differences are only one of several factors that contributed to the surprising 2016 outcome, but rural voters are rightly acknowledged as one key factor in Donald Trump’s electoral success. Yet, defining 2016 as the tale of two Americas—one urban, one rural—hinders a nuanced understanding of the country’s political geography. Many political commentators mistakenly caricature rural America as a single entity, but our research summarized here shows that complex variations in voting patterns persist among both urban and rural places.1 Rural America is a remarkably diverse collection of places including more than 70 percent of the land area of the United States and 46 million people.2 Both demographic and voting trends in this vast area are far from monolithic. Here we examine voting patterns over the last five presidential elections, treating rural–urban differences as a continuum, not a dichotomy.
Demography Demography, Politics and Elections, Rural, Urban Publication
Carsey Perspectives: Polling and the New Hampshire Primary
As of this writing, the New Hampshire primary is scheduled to take place in just about two months—on Tuesday, February 9, just eight days after the first nomination contest, the Iowa caucuses. Numerous polls have already told us what the voters are contemplating “if the election were held today.” In interpreting what the polls mean for the actual primary election, however, we need to take into consideration several caveats.
New Hampshire New Hampshire, Politics and Elections Publication
Carsey Perspectives: To Dig, Or Not To Dig?
Editor’s Note: Tom Haines, a journalist and assistant professor of English at The University of New Hampshire, has walked hundreds of miles across landscapes of fuel while researching a book about energy and the environment that will be published in 2018. He served as a Carsey School Summer Research Scholar in 2015, when he walked 50 miles among the open-pit coal mines of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. That on-the-ground reporting informs this analysis. In January 2016, the Department of Interior announced a moratorium on all new federal coal leases while it conducts an in-depth review of the process by which coal owned by the American public is sold to private enterprise for harvest. Nearly 40 percent of all coal produced in the United States comes from federal land, and coal still powers one-third of the nation’s electricity grid.1 The federal coal lease review, the first since the 1980s, considers pricing and competitive bidding practices, but also, for the first time, the environmental impact that burning coal has on a warming planet. In announcing the review, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said: “We need to take into account right now the science of carbon’s impact on the environment.” Ten percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions comes from burning coal harvested on public land. Nearly all of that, more than 85 percent, is dug from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana.2 Nowhere else does the U.S. government control such a vast deposit of fossil fuel. So as the lease review—and the climate impacts it considers—plays out over the next few years, the Powder River Basin, home to some of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines, looms as a policy frontier: Should this fuel box of America, which has sent coal to power plants in dozens of states for decades, continue to feed our energy appetite?
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Politics and Elections Publication
Carsey Perspectives: Water Concerns Unite Citizen Activists
This study focuses on an instance of sustained local activism in which citizens in three New Hampshire communities mobilized to protect community groundwater against threats from commercial use. Beginning in 2001, despite strong citizen opposition, state-issued permits allowed a private company, USA Springs, to commence work on a large water-bottling operation that would have pumped over 400,000 gallons daily from Nottingham and Barrington. Activists fought back through state agencies and the courts, engaging in a lengthy campaign that involved petitioning, lobbying, community meetings, rallies, public protests, and a State Supreme Court case. Meanwhile, and absent an immediate threat to their own town’s water, Barnstead residents worked proactively with a public interest law firm based in Pennsylvania to develop the nation’s first local ordinance prohibiting the taking of community water by corporations. Ultimately, Nottingham and Barrington followed suit, crafting their own ordinances and joining a growing community rights movement that has taken hold in at least twelve states. After a fight that spanned more than a decade, the Nottingham and Barrington activists ultimately prevailed. The company went bankrupt, and water bottling never commenced. Although many factors—including the dedication and persistence of the activists themselves—contributed to the victory, the case suggests that local ordinances can be an effective tool for mobilizing and educating residents, encouraging deliberative dialogue around environmental and resource issues, and deterring unwanted commercial activity.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Community, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Rivers/Watersheds Publication
Changes in New Hampshire’s Republican Party: Evolving Footprint in Presidential Politics, 1960-2008
This brief describes a series of dramatic changes in New Hampshire's political landscape over the past four decades. Examining presidential elections from 1960 to 2008, author Dante Scala uncovers a series of significant shifts in New Hampshire's political geography at the county level.
New Hampshire New Hampshire, Politics and Elections Publication
Changing Church in the South: Religion and Politics in Elba, Alabama
Conventional wisdom and statistical evidence show Southerners to be considerably more conservative on social issues like gay marriage and abortion than others in the U.S. But in shifting one's vantage point from the aerial view of statistics to the streets of Elba, Alabama, the relationships among faith, politics and social values become far more nuanced and dynamic. In this Southern Baptist stronghold, the roles and expectations of women are changing, non-Baptists are moving here and looking for a church home, and a new faith community has emerged, disaffected with the established orthodoxy. While the Southern Baptist Convention dominates the rural South and is likely to shape political thinking here in the near future, recent experience in Elba suggests that within “the solid South” there are striations of questioning and even defiance.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Politics and Elections, Religion Publication
Climate Change: Partisanship, Understanding, and Public Opinion
In 2010, Carsey Institute researchers began including three new questions about climate change on a series of regional surveys. They asked how much people understand about the issue of global warming or climate change; whether they think that most scientists agree that climate change is happening now as a result of human activities; and what they believe personally about the topic. Survey results show that while large majorities agree that climate change is happening now, they split on whether this is attributed mainly to human or natural causes. Brief author Lawrence Hamilton concludes that most people gather information about climate change not directly from scientists but indirectly—through news media, political activists, acquaintances, and other non-science sources. Their understanding reflects not simply scientific knowledge, but rather the adoption of views promoted by political or opinion leaders they follow. While public beliefs about physical reality remain strikingly politicized, leading science organizations agree that human activities are now changing the Earth’s climate. Interestingly, the strong scientific agreement on this point contrasts with the partisan disagreement seen on all of the Carsey surveys.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Civic Attitudes, Climate Change, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Conservative and Liberal Views of Science
Conservative distrust of scientists regarding climate change and evolution has been widely expressed in public pronouncements and surveys, contributing to impressions that conservatives are less likely to trust scientists in general. But what about other topics, where some liberals have expressed misgivings too? Nuclear power safety, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are three often-mentioned examples. For this report, five similarly worded survey questions were designed to test the hypothesis that, depending on the issue, liberals are just as likely to reject science as conservatives. The five questions were included along with many unrelated items in telephone surveys of over 1,000 New Hampshire residents. As expected, liberals were most likely and conservatives least likely to say that they trust scientists for information about climate change or evolution. Contrary to the topic-bias hypothesis, however, liberals also were most likely and conservatives least likely to trust scientists for information about vaccines, nuclear power safety, and GMOs. Liberal–conservative gaps on these questions ranged from 55 points (climate change) to 24 points (nuclear power), but always in the same direction. These results pose a challenge for some common explanations of political polarization in views about science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Data Snapshot: “Trump Towns” Swung Democratic in New Hampshire Midterms
New Hampshire municipalities with fewer college-educated residents, which generally offered strong support for Donald Trump two years ago, swung toward the opposing party in the 2018 midterms.
Demography, New Hampshire Civic Attitudes, Demography, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do Scientists Agree about Climate Change? Public Perceptions from a New Hampshire Survey
This report, a collaboration of the Carsey Institute, the UNH Survey Center, and the UNH Office of Sustainability, is the first of a new initiative that will track public perceptions about climate change as they change over time. Questions related to climate change were asked as part of New Hampshire's Granite State Poll, which surveyed 512 New Hampshire residents in April 2010.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Believe the Climate Is Changing? Answers From New Survey Research
This brief explores how political views influence Americans’ understanding and perception of science. The research is based on a national version of the Community and Environment in Rural America survey called NCERA, and on New Hampshire’s statewide Granite State Poll.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Trust Scientists About the Environment?
In this brief, author Lawrence Hamilton examines the results of a Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in late January–early February 2014. The poll asked about public trust in scientists, along with other questions on science, political, and social issues that help to place the science-trust results in perspective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Eyes Off the Earth?
Survey researchers have observed significant political divisions in the United States with regard to public trust of science related to evolution, the environment, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, and other topics. Conservatives are less likely than moderates or liberals to say they trust scientists for information on any of these topics.1 Some of the widest divisions involve climate change, an area where the Trump administration and conservatives in Congress have proposed steep reductions in research. For example, the president’s detailed budget proposal in May 2017 calls for cuts to the Earth science and education programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including termination of five Earth-viewing missions such as the DSCOVR satellite instruments which produced the image in Figure 1.2 Congressional efforts have also often targeted NASA Earth science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Trust Publication
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. Demographic Trends 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.
Demography, New Hampshire Demography, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections Publication
Granite Staters Weigh in on Renewable Energy Versus Drilling: Environmental Quality of Life Ranks High Across Party Lines
Since the fall of 2001, the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center has been conducting the Granite State Poll—a statewide, scientific survey of public opinion and behavior concerning policy issues—via telephone interviews with random samples of New Hampshire residents about four times each year.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Many New Voters Make the Granite State One to Watch in November
A third of potential voters in New Hampshire during the fall of 2008 have become eligible to vote in the state. Further, these potential new voters are more likely to identify with the Democratic Party and less likely to identify as Republicans than are established New Hampshire voters, contributing to the state's purple status.
New Hampshire New Hampshire, Politics and Elections Publication
New Faces at the Polls in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary
New Hampshire prides itself on its first-in-the-nation status, but with changing demographics and significant migration in and out of the state, the winner of the New Hampshire Primary was anyone's guess.
New Hampshire Demography, Migration, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections Publication
On Renewable Energy and Climate, Trump Voters Stand Apart
Globally, 2016 was the warmest year on record, surpassing records set in 2015 and 2014,1 and each new record emphasizes the longer-term upward trend. Though not every place on Earth experienced warming effects last year, they were quite evident in many areas. Rising South Pacific sea temperatures caused the largest die-off ever recorded of the coral that composes Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice reached record lows for several months of the year. Among scientists looking at such data, there is overwhelming agreement that human activities are shifting Earth’s climate in hazardous directions, and urgent actions are needed to slow this down.2 Among U.S. politicians and the public, however, there remain wide divisions on whether human-caused climate change is real, whether scientists agree, and whether anything should be done.3 Though climate change received little media attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, recent surveys indicate that climate change and related energy issues are taken seriously by a growing majority of the public. An example is shown in Figure 1, which charts responses to climate-change and renewable-energy questions from a post-election Polar, Environment, and Science (POLES) survey carried out by Carsey School researchers in November–December 2016. The sample comprised 707 adults from all 50 states.4
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Energy, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Red Rural, Blue Rural
Political commentators routinely treat rural America as an undifferentiated bastion of strength for Republicans. In fact, rural America is a deceptively simple term describing a diverse collection of places encompassing nearly 75 percent of the U.S. land area and 50 million people. Voting trends in this vast area are far from monolithic. Republican presidential candidates have generally done well in rural America, but there are important enclaves of Democratic strength there as well. In “battleground” states, these rural differences may have a significant impact on tightly contested elections. Rural Is Red With Pockets of Blue The political divisions between urban and rural America are well documented. Democrats count on a strong performance in cities to offset a poor performance outside of them. The political divisions within rural America are less well understood. The growing political diversity of rural America is evident when counties dominated by the old and new rural economy are compared. For instance, voters who reside in areas dominated by the “old rural economy,” exemplified by farming, strongly favor Republican presidential candidates. In contrast, rural areas dominated by the “new rural economy,” based on recreation, amenities, and services, have become critical pockets of strength for Democratic presidential candidates. These partisan differences remain even after controlling for demographic factors and the North–South split.
Demography Demography, Politics and Elections, Rural Publication
Religion, Politics, and the Environment in Rural America
Reflecting the heterogeneous nature of rural America, rural Americans are divided primarily along religious lines on their perspectives of environmental conservation and climate change. And as rural voters and environmental issues become key issues in the upcoming presidential election, this religious divide presents a challenge to political candidates.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Religion, Rural Publication