Women like to sweep–especially the top spots in New Hampshire


Carol Shea-Porter’s late-hour victory in New Hampshire’s relatively tight first Congressional district race, securing the “lady time” achievement of putting women in the top political offices in the state, was particularly poetic given her honor of being the first woman New Hampshire ever sent to Congress (in 2006!).

Tuesday’s winning women are part of a New Hampshire female vanguard that includes the state’s senators, Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen. From today’s Boston Globe:

“Ayotte was New Hampshire’s first female attorney general. Shaheen was the first woman elected governor in New Hampshire, as well as the only woman to have served as both governor and U.S. senator. Together, they made New Hampshire the first state to have female senators of both parties serving at the same time.”

So it makes sense that the female victories in New Hampshire would be seen as part of the gender gap that worked in President Obama’s favor. While the president enjoyed a +11 advantage among women nationally, that gap was +16 against Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. (That’s actually a lower number than the +23 he had in 2008, but represents the same proportion of voters.)

The national Democratic strategy of highlighting the Republican “war on women” (in which New Hampshire Republicans were active participants) seems to have found especially fertile ground in the campaign of Maggie Hassan, yielding her spectacular success in winning the governorship. Her race was called earlier than the others, she won in every county in the state, and her personal gender gap was +22 with women (she won the men by a percentage point as well). I haven’t been able to find gender breakdowns for the Congressional races yet, but on this information alone I wonder how much it was Hassan’s appeal to women that helped President Obama more than the other way around. Or maybe there’s no way to single out a leader and instead New Hampshire experienced a sort of electoral feedback loop.

The exit poll data for New Hampshire show a strong majority (70%-25%) support keeping abortion legal (and saw the presidential candidates as roughly equal on who would better handle the economy). A New York Times item in October framed the strategy like this:

“Obama has to convince those depressed economically, especially blue-collar women, that economic insecurity is not their biggest problem. That’s the point of the “G.O.P. war on women.” This seems to be working in New Hampshire, as women without a college education have been drifting back into the Obama camp. Whether they stay will decide this election.”

I guess they stayed.

For what it’s worth, according to the 2010 Census, there are more women than men in New Hampshire, but not by much.

Women like to sweep--especially the top spots in New Hampshire