How Common Are Split-Ticket Outcomes in N.H. During Presidential Elections?

Dec 23, 2015

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

It’s probably a safe bet that Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Kelly Ayotte are paying close attention to who’s in front of the pack for their respective party’s presidential primary — and for good reason.

Ayotte and Hassan are set to face off in next year's U.S. Senate election. And when you’re a down-ballot politician running in a presidential year, your fate is at least somewhat influenced by the dynamics of the race at the top of the ticket. There’s a line of thinking that the party that's able to push its supporters to the polls during a presidential election can also end up making gains at the gubernatorial or Congressional level, too.

Smart Politics, a political news site out of the University of Minnesota, recently looked at how often one party’s managed to “sweep” the ticket during past presidential elections in New Hampshire. Eric Ostermeier, the author, found that it’s only happened in about half of the presidential cycles over the last century — all but once in Republicans’ favor.

According to Ostermeier’s analysis, Granite Staters more often split their votes for president and U.S. Senate (43.8 percent of the time) than they split their votes for president and governor (28 percent of the time).

“The idea that New Hampshire voters might split their ticket in 2016 should not come as a surprise,” Ostermeier writes. “For starters, each of these three races (president, Senate and governor) has the potential to be very closely decided in this battleground state, so there is little guarantee that the party which prevails at the top of the ticket will sweep the other two contests down the ballot.”

Republicans swept the ticket for  presidential, U.S. Senate and gubernatorial seats in 1920, 1924, 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968 and 1984. Only once — the 2008 election — did Democrats manage to pull off that kind of sweep.

For more details on this trend — and Ostermeier’s thoughts on what this might mean for the likes of Hassan and Ayotte — you can read the full blog here.