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Hanover: Clinton’s Granite State stronghold

  • Scott Brown Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • A banner encouraging people to vote stretches across Main Street in Hanover. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hanover seems like the quintessential New England college town: a bustling Main Street lined with shops and restaurants, historically-preserved brick buildings, and a smattering of lending libraries stationed on the sidewalks.

But Hanover stands out in the state demographically. Its median income is $94,063, a third higher than the state’s average; the median age of residents is 23-years-old, two decades below the state’s graying average; and the number of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher is twice the state’s average at 78.1 percent.

Those demographics are no surprise to those familiar with the town, whose biggest employers are Ivy-league Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. It may also come as no surprise that Hanover, population 11,260, voted overwhelmingly Democratic on Election Day. Eighty-five percent of voters picked Hillary Clinton, 77 percent voted for Maggie Hassan, and 77 percent voted for Colin Van Ostern.

This came as no surprise to many, including Nancy Cressman, who owns Left Bank Books, a used and out-of-print bookstore nestled above Main Street. Cressman, 59, who lives just over the river in Norwich, Vt., has spent most of her life around the town, and views it as a “political silo” for liberal viewpoints.

“The election wasn’t as visible here as previous ones,” she said, recalling people campaigning daily for their candidates in 2008 and 2012. “I think, when you look at the country, a lot of people tend to live around people who think like them.”

Indeed, Cressmen felt the town’s views on some of the election’s divisive issues, such as the environment, women’s rights and immigration were shared by many.

She also felt the voters, because of their high level of education, were committed to getting a variety of viewpoints before forming their own opinions.

“While I took offense to Trump’s ‘general moral plunder,’ I think he spoke the way a lot of people think and what they fear,” she said. “I’ve heard the election results described as a ‘whitelash,’ and we need to listen to people who both think that way and those affected by that thinking.”

Scott Brown, 60, who has lived in Hanover for 20 years and runs a renewable energy investments company, agreed, praising what he sees as the residents’ commitment to sustainability and diversity. However, he felt the town’s lack of political diversity was not always a good thing.

“It’s not a true reflection of what the rest of the country looks like,” he said. “When you don’t get to hear and see others’ views, you can’t personalize them. They become abstract terms.”

But Jackie Chen, 19, a sophomore at Dartmouth, felt conservative views are present and given weight, especially at the college.

“It’s more conservative than what I would see in San Francisco, where I’m from,” he said. “But it’s, I think, it’s more of a logical Republican belief, a rational perspective you might not see where I’m from. Both sides are given weight.”

Alexsandra Terrio, 19 and Kniya De’De’, 18, both freshmen at the college, felt the town was shocked by Donald Trump’s victory.

“It was little horrifying,” De’De’ said.

But Terrio noted the community also rallied around its diverse residents: the day after the election, signs showing support for women, Muslims and LGBTQ+ people appeared around the college and the town, and Dartmouth’s green flag was temporarily turned upside down.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309 and candrews@cmonitor.com.)