Political junkies from around the country consistently ask me the same two questions. First, why are the politics of New Hampshire and Vermont so different? (It’s a great question but takes a whole lot more than 750 words to answer.) Second, is New Hampshire becoming more liberal? For years, out-of-state newspapers — most conspicuously, ahem, this one — have kept on publishing the same story about how our state is lurching to the left. Like the broken clock that gets it right twice a day, these wishful predictions finally panned out in 2008 with Barack Obama’s 10-point victory over John McCain.
But in reality, New Hampshire has always been a swing state, especially at the presidential level. Even in state politics, we’ve had Democratic governors in every decade since the 1960s. Reporters typically overlook that fact, in part because Republicans enjoyed a particularly strong run from 1983 to1997. In politics, however, the truth is almost always more interesting than the fiction.