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Fri January 27, 2012
Breaking Down Who Does–And Doesn’t–Support Eminent Domain For Northern Pass
Recently the Concord Monitor reported on a Granite State Poll commissioned by a key Northern Pass rival–the New England Power Generators Association. The big news coming out of the study was 68 percent of the 500 respondents were against eminent domain for Northern Pass.
But what interested us even more than the overarching sentiment toward eminent domain was how opinions broke down along various demographic lines.
Right now, the study’s not posted on the University of New Hampshire Survey Center site where most Granite State Polls live. But luckily for us, the Monitor went ahead and linked to a scanned copy of the report, which included several pages of demographic data. So this week, we went ahead and crunched some numbers to try to give you a fuller picture of what Northern Pass eminent domain opposition–and support–looks like.
First of all, our bout of data entry made one thing abundantly clear: There’s strong–and in some cases, overwhelming–opposition to eminent domain across the demographic groups surveyed. Depending on the group, anywhere from 60 to 81 percent of respondents were against the project.
But that doesn’t mean we didn’t find some interesting variations.
Let’s start with politics. As poll data made clear (and our charts show), neither party identification nor political ideology seems to be a significant factor when it comes to support or opposition.
But that doesn't mean there aren't variations in opinion based on other demographics. Below are some numbers that stood out to us when we reviewed the polling data.
- Sex: 24 percent of male respondents favored eminent domain for Northern Pass, compared to 14 percent of female respondents.
- Age: The highest level of opposition to the project was in the 50-64 years bracket, at 72 percent. The lowest levels of opposition were in the 18-34 bracket and the 65+ group, at 65 and 64 percent, respectively. Interestingly enough, people in the high-opposition 50-64 and 65+ groups also had the highest proportion of eminent domain supporters, both at 21 percent. In other words, among these respondents, opinions are pretty well set. The lowest level of Northern Pass support was among the 18-34 group, at 10 percent. But the proportion of people who responded they didn't know was higher than all the other brackets, at 24 percent. In other words, this age group appears to be more "in play" regarding the project.
- Income: The highest rate of opposition was the $60,000 to $74,999 bracket, at 82 percent. The highest rate of favor was in the $45,000 to $59,999 and $100,000+ brackets, each at 25 percent.
- Time Spent In NH: People who've spent the least and the most time in the state have the highest levels of eminent domain opposition vis-a-vis Northern Pass. Among people who've been here five years or less, opposition to eminent domain runs at 81 percent. Meanwhile, 70 percent of those in the 20+ years bracket oppose the project. The other groups fall in line with the state average, at 60 percent opposition. People who've spent five years or less in New Hampshire also have the lowest level of Northern Pass supporters, at eight percent. In all other groups, 19 to 20 percent of respondents favored the project. The newest and oldest New Hampshire residents were also much less inclined than other groups to answer that they didn't know their opinion on Northern Pass.
- Region: In all regions, opposition to eminent domain ranged from 66 percent (Seacoast) to 72 percent (North Country). The lowest rates of support were in the North Country, at 15 percent, and Hillsborough County, at 16 percent. In the rest of the state, support for Northern Pass using eminent domain ranged from 19 to 23 percent.
Ed. Note: In an earlier version of this post, we described the poll as a measure of Northern Pass support or opposition. Rather, it was a measure of support for eminent domain vis-a-vis Northern Pass. We regret the error.