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Editorial: What the split ticket really says

In a perfect world, the split-ticket voter would represent the evolution of democracy. Can you imagine if everybody chose candidates based not on party affiliation or how loudly they deliver talking points but on competence, intelligence and honesty?

Historically, New Hampshire has split the ticket quite often. From 1908 to 2012, presidential and U.S. Senate ballots were split seven out of 16 times in the state, according to Smart Politics, a news site associated with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. That’s a percentage of 43.8, which puts New Hampshire seventh on the list of states most likely to vote for candidates from different parties on Election Day.

Now here’s the bad news.

According to a study by Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at UCLA, the reality of the split-ticket voter represents something far different than the height of democracy.

“The single best predictor of cross-party voting,” Vavreck wrote in the New York Times on May 25, “is still how much you know about politics: the less you know, the more you vote for two parties.”

One would think that New Hampshire, headquarters of retail politics, would be an outlier in Vavreck’s study, but that’s not the case.

In fact, a February study by Andrew Smith and Zachary Azem of the UNH Survey Center found that a close look at the New Hampshire breed of ticket-splitters known as independent voters supports Vavreck’s findings.

In the statewide survey, only 37 percent of self-described independent voters were able to correctly name the two U.S. senators from New Hampshire, while 44 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats were able to accomplish the feat. While those numbers aren’t exactly great for Republicans and Democrats either, it’s clear that an openness to candidates from both parties can often mean a voter is simply apathetic.

Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, said the independent voter as “the embodiment of the thoughtful citizen” is an enduring myth in New Hampshire. The perception, Scala said, is that so-called independent voters are mainly interested in choosing the best person for the job, but more often than not they are using the word “independent” when they mean uninterested.

The fact is, partisan voters truly are more knowledgeable – which is understandable but also kind of a shame. A candidate should have to do much more than toe the party line in order to win in election.

There is a way, however, for voters of all stripes to help craft a better political system. They can start by spending some time online getting to know the people who represent them in Washington and Concord. They can make an effort to understand the legislative process. They can explore the issues that mean the most to them while resisting the urge to seek out sources that merely affirm their party’s position or launch surface-level attacks on the opposition.

That may not lead to a split-ticket utopia, but it would mean New Hampshire deserved its reputation for having thoughtful voters. And that’s a pretty good place to be, too.

Legacy Comments21

Thank you to the Monitor for correcting the misapprehension that our first-in-the-nation primary has created a state with really savvy voters. Time to look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Do I really know how my government works (or doesn't) and who I am voting for?" Or worse, "Why do I think not voting is OK when it really is just surrendering my rights as a citizen?"

Please look into that mirror. You support surrender of right. You think that government is the end all / be all. Not savvy at all.

Itsa - and you know this about Lucy.... how? Oh, perhaps you meant to express an opinion? Speculation, even? You complain about how arrogant the president is... do you have any idea how arrogant you come off when you express opinions as if they are facts?

Actually FOF, anybody the disagrees with you is arrogant right? Or racist, mean and heartless. Again, the folks you disagree with are pretty much accused of every name in the book. Never occurs to the left, that if one political party is bad, lies and is a host of other negative traits, that just maybe that is how the game of politics is played. I have always taken the stance that Pols are bought. The idea that the left do not lie, cheat and play politics is just plain dumb.

No, Rabbit, I don't think that. Having an opinion that is different from mine, even one that I find abhorrant, doesn't make someone arrogant. It probably doesn't make them racist, either. I do not assume racism, bigotry or homophobia when someone expresses a negative opinion about someone who is different from them - unless the statement is clearly bigoted, like "she's probably got PMS, so give her a week and she'll calm down." I don't believe that I have ever called anyone a name on this forum. I have pointed out on numerous occasions that certain behaviors give the appearance of arrogance or bigotry. I am making an observation about behavior, not making an assumption about a person's personality, beliefs, or values. I'm perfectly willing to hear "the good reasons" for a person's behavior, because I know I'm not a mind reader and I know I don't have all the facts. I also have never painted either liberals or conservatives with a broad brush, by claiming that no liberals ever do anything wrong, or that everyone in either party behaves in a certain way. If you can find an example of me doing that, please point it out to me and I will apologize.

Actually FOF, I get from your posts that you do in fact believe that someone that disagrees with your politics is arrogant. Not a heck of a lot of difference between assumption and observation. That to me is just word play. Your posts seem to focus on folks claiming fact. That is also word play in my book. And word play is what Dems do best. That way they can change the discussion. They do it all the time. They accuse the right of not wanting this soldier released, when most of us are upset about the deal that was made. And we have good reasons for being upset. We worry about the soldiers who will be kidnapped for more Gitmo swaps and national security. Yet we are accused of not wanting this soldier released. That is what the left does best. And the one to me that is the most disgusting is using the race card for politics. Nobody on the left will ever own up to that. And I am shocked that President Obama allows it. There have been a lot of screw-ups with this administration in regards to many issues like the economy, jobs, lies, and all the scandals. At some point the list of screw-ups cannot be denied. But the left keeps on denying.

Well, I guess I can't do anything about what you "get" from my comments. You may call it word play, but I see a very big difference between an observation about appearances and an assumption. I actually do understand your concerns about the prisoner swap deal. It made me a little uneasy too. I don't think you didn't want the soldier released. That would be dumb. I didn't accuse you of racism, and I'm not going to. You have a legitimate point here. I also agree with you that playing the race card for political reasons is dirty. I do, however, reserve the right to point out real racism when I see it. Finally, I'd just like to point out that you are complaining to me about things that other people have said. I'm not those other people, and I probably can't control them any more than I can (or should) control you. I did see something a week or so ago from one of the liberal commentators that, in hindsight, I should have said something about. It crossed the line, and I will try not to let those kinds of things go unchallenged in the future.

I am not attacking you personally FOF. Nice tactic though. I also know what you have pointed out in your posts. I could make the argument that you are attacking me. Suggesting what words I should use in my posts, and accusing me of all kinds of broad brush painting. But we are use to that here on this forum. You get the distinct impression that the left on this forum would be thrilled if this forum banned any opposing views from theirs. And they have the hope that if they attack, name call and avoid discussing the issues, the right will leave like Van did. That is not the idea behind a forum. Folks that want to solve problems need to look at all sides of an issue. The left believe there is only one side, theirs. That is why they respond the way they do. And that is also why they have to keep making excuses, use word play and change the discussion. That is how I see it. I like a good discussion, pros and cons. Hard to have with a leftie though. They refuse to evaluate how well their programs have worked. Instead they want more of them, bigger govt, and division. They see only their agenda. And those that disagree with that agenda are evil. My take.

LOL. It was not a "tactic." Jeez. Here I am trying to be reasonable - even acknowledging that we have common ground on the Bergdahl story, and you STILL do broad brush painting about the motivations of those on the left, and that you find it difficult to have a discussion with a leftie. Any leftie, apparently. And since I'm a "leftie," that seems to imply that it's hard to have a discussion with me. Again, I have not called anyone any names and I'm not trying to shut anyone down or prevent them from expressing opinions. You say you're not attacking me, but when you lump me (or anyone else) in with the larger demonic left, it certainly feels like an attack. [shrug] I'm not particularly interested in continuing this bit of back and forth.... so... I will continue on trying to be reasonable and respectful.... and I hope that you will perhaps think twice about the broad brush. We're all individuals, both left and right.

I stated I was not attacking you personally. If I was, I would have used your name. You told Itsa he came off as arrogant. What do you call that? You closed your post lecturing me about thinking twice, what do you call that? I can play the word game too FOF, but I prefer to discuss the issues. You have the option of ignoring me. Like I told Tillie, if your going to lecture, accuse or stir the pot, folks will in fact respond. It is a forum. Just do not respond to the folks who style of writing or presentation you do not like. I still wonder what all this about. On one hand I thought folks wanted to discuss issues for the good of all of us. That does not seem to be the case. The left want their agenda, period.

Lucy ran for the legislature and is heavily involved in the Northwood Democrats which should be called the Northwood Socialists. I know more than you can imagine but thanks for giving me the opportunity to reply. Thank you FOF,

You do realize this country has a two party system right? I really think you and BPR would be so much happier in a red state, Texas or Kansas for example where everyone agrees with you and no one has to think anymore. PS when YOU go to the VA hospital, how do YOU get treated?

You do realize Tillie that you would be pleased as punch if all Reps were transported to a jail like Gitmo, right? You also must realize, that when Bush was in office, you did not cut him any slack right? You are very good at giving out advice that you do not follow. Progressives like to put it out there how fair, inclusive, and welcoming they are. Yet their actions are just the opposite. They only care about those that think like them. That is why they demonize anybody that disagrees with them. And are willing to sacrifice the economy, freedoms and create division to achieve their agenda.

Rabbit, Until the day I die I will not give Bush any slack. Four thousand four hundred eighty six Americans soldiers died because of a phony war. Thousands more were maimed for the rest of their lives. Not to mention thousands of Iraqi civilians killed. He was stupid and Cheney was evil. There is nothing, nothing Obama has done that even comes close, including Benghazi.

Many of us opt to NOT use the VA. Are you aware that not all veterans use the VA. My 93 year old father served in WWII and in the Air Force and he used the VA once. My now deceased Uncle used the VA once in his lifetime. Both of them had severe combat injuries but for the most part used GP's and local hospitals. As for relocation, you and the rest of the out of state folks can return to whatever state you came from. This state was pretty nice and a really great place to live until people started moving here from places like Kingston, MA, St Louis, MO, Nyack, NY, Montclair, NJ and all points South, seeking a life escaping the cesspools of high taxes that they created elsewhere, only to bring their big spending ways and urban sprawl. Now, for instance, Concord is saturated by people who are so far to the left that Karl Marx would blush.

HEADLINES: "Federal judge: For blacks, ‘voting rights’ include identifying Democrats on ballots"..... the NOBAMA Department of Justice barred the city of Kinston, N.C. from holding nonpartisan elections — reasoning that lack of access to party affiliation would discriminate against minority voters who otherwise wouldn’t know how to find Democratic candidates on a ballot. Read more: That fact proves the two liberal professors as wrong but that is what you get when you read this RAG

Really? As if we didn't already know, you have a low standard for what constitutes 'proof' on any given issue. Posting party affiliation is standard practice on most ballots. Any attempt at removing party identification from the ballot--especially in a state with a long history of discrimination in voting rights--like N. Carolina's-- should rightly be suspect.

"Posting party affiliation is standard practice on most ballots" it is needed because democrats are simply too dumb to know who they are voting for without them. Proof is in the federal judges decision

Talk about dumb - and unethical. Can you top the Republican (and totally Anglo) perennial loser in Arizona who is changing both his party affiliation, to Democrat, and his name (that's right, folks, his freakin' NAME), to Cesar Chavez, in order to steal an election. How about one time, Mr. BestPres, you deal with specifics rather than resorting to to broad-brush name calling?

Please don't forget our free state Repubs pretending to be Dems in a blue district of Nashua just to get elected.

Once again, your definition of 'proof' on any given issue is an extraordinarily low bar: it's whatever you happen to think it is, no matter whether that "proof" defies logic and common sense.

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