Hiller Instinct: Independents in New Hampshire could determine the Primary

What’s the biggest party in New Hampshire?

Democrats?  Republicans?

Neither!

It’s independent voters — or undeclared–as they’re called here.

And there are enough of them to determine who wins the New Hampshire primary.

"I told them, I’m going to New Hampshire, and I’ll tell them the truth!" said Sen. John McCain after he won the 2008 New Hampshire Republican Primary
 
When candidates declare victory in New Hampshire, it’s not only voters from their own party they may have to thank — it’s independent voters, too. And the numbers tell why:

Of the nearly 900,000 voters here, 30% are registered Republicans; 26% registered Democrats and 44% independent.

"Independents in New Hampshire take being independent very seriously, and they can have a huge impact, said Dr. Josh Dyck, pollster at UMass Lowell.
 
Take Republican Senator John McCain.  In 2008, the last time there were two contested primaries here, McCain beat Mitt Romney by just one point with Republican voters.  But won independents by 12 points, giving him a decisive victory.

 As Hillary Clinton campaigns here now, she knows she’s not been the choice of independents in the past.
 
And she’s not now either:  Our poll shows she’s trailing Bernie Sanders  among independents by 67-26-percent,  41 points.

In 2008, she lost independents to Barack Obama by 10 points, but carried registered Democrats by a big enough margin to win:
 
And what about independents now?:

What we’re seeing is more and more independents taking the Republican ballot, because the Democratic contest is so one-sided, which sided, interestingly could turn out to be good for Hillary Clinton.

Independents are tough to track, said Dr. Dyck.

They can vote in either primary, and don’t have to decide which one to vote in until election day.
 
Next Tuesday, after all the votes are counted, don’t be surprised if, as independents go, so goes New Hampshire.

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