In New Hampshire, Hillary's Built In 3% Advantage
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Until this year, New Hampshire rotated candidate name order from precinct to precinct, which allowed us to do that analysis.
This year, the secretary of state changed the procedure so the names were alphabetical starting with a randomly selected letter, in all precincts.
The randomly selected letter this year was Z.
As a result, Joe Biden was first on every ballot, Hillary Clinton was near the top of the list (and the first serious contender listed) and Barack Obama was close to last of the 21 candidates listed.
Thus, I'll bet that Clinton got at least 3 percent more votes than Obama simply because she was listed close to the top.
Most, if not all, of the pre-election telephone polls rotated name order from respondent to respondent, which meant name order did not distort their overall results. Failing to incorporate the name order effect that probably happened in the voting booth is therefore probably partly responsible for the polls' inaccuracy.
More importantly, if New Hampshire had rotated name order in the voting booth as it has always done in the past, the race would probably have been too close to call without a recount and might even have been an Obama victory.
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