New Hampshire has an especially large number of persuadable voters, writes Nate Silver. This characteristic of elasticity, he explains, leads to the dramatic partisan swings we’ve seen in recent elections:
Certain swing states have an especially large number of persuadable voters. New Hampshire is a paradigmatic example of this. About half that state’s voters identify as independents. Moreover, they have demographic characteristics that tend to balance one another out. New Hampshire is overwhelmingly white, for example, and quite wealthy, which tends to favor Republicans. It is also quite well-educated, and socially liberal, which tends to favor Democrats. Many voters in the state may shift their votes along with the political tides. When Democrats are having a reasonably good night over all, as they did in 2012, they can sweep almost all contests on the state ballot. But they can lose almost everything when the political climate works against them, as in 2010. We term this an elastic state.