Iowa’s GOP Electorate Differs Significantly from New Hampshire’s

  • Iowa and New Hampshire have differences in their Republican nomination contests, including variations in the electorate and electoral rules.
  • Former President Donald Trump is hoping to break the pattern of different winners in Iowa and New Hampshire but faces a smaller advantage in New Hampshire.
  • New Hampshire’s electorate is less likely to identify as Republicans and is less conservative and religious compared to Iowa’s caucusgoers.

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Iowa and New Hampshire have long been the starting points for the presidential primary calendar in the United States. Both states prioritize retail politics, encouraging candidates to engage in face-to-face interactions with voters. Additionally, both states have predominantly white populations. However, when it comes to the Republican nomination contests, there are significant differences between Iowa and New Hampshire.

Entrance and exit poll data reveal stark contrasts between the GOP electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire. Republican caucusgoers in Iowa tend to be more conservative and evangelical compared to Republican primary voters in New Hampshire. These differences can be attributed to variations in the two states’ populations and divergent electoral rules that result in a larger, less conservative electorate in New Hampshire.

Iowa and New Hampshire have consistently voted for different winners in every open Republican presidential contest since 1980. However, former President Donald Trump is hoping to break this pattern. He won the Iowa caucuses by a large margin and is also leading in the New Hampshire polling average. Nevertheless, his advantage in New Hampshire is smaller, giving former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley a small chance at an upset victory.

The different winners in Iowa and New Hampshire can be partially explained by the states’ electoral rules. Iowa’s caucuses have lower turnout compared to New Hampshire’s primaries. Moreover, New Hampshire has a larger percentage of independent voters who can participate in party primaries, making its electorate more diverse and less solidly Republican.

New Hampshire’s electorate tends to favor candidates who align with social conservatives in Iowa, but who also appeal to a broader part of the primary electorate. For example, in 2000, George W. Bush won Iowa with his message of “compassionate conservatism,” but John McCain’s maverick reputation helped him win New Hampshire.

One reason for the contrasting results is that New Hampshire primary voters are less likely to identify as Republicans compared to Iowa caucusgoers. New Hampshire’s electorate includes a larger proportion of undeclared voters who can participate in party primaries, broadening the electorate further. In contrast, a higher percentage of Iowa caucusgoers identify as Republicans.

The electoral differences also extend to ideological views. Iowa caucusgoers tend to be more conservative compared to New Hampshire primary voters. New Hampshire’s population has a smaller share of white evangelical Christians, who are more likely to identify as Republican. This contributes to a less conservative primary electorate in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire is also one of the least religious states in the country, with a smaller share of highly religious individuals compared to Iowa. Additionally, New Hampshire has a larger share of voters with at least a four-year college degree, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into a more highly educated primary electorate due to the lower turnout in caucuses.

In conclusion, the New Hampshire primary electorate is expected to be less solidly Republican, less conservative, and less religious compared to Iowa caucusgoers. While there is a slim possibility of an upset victory for Nikki Haley over Donald Trump in New Hampshire, the final results will determine the competitiveness of the GOP race as a whole.

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