NH's small size belies its political power

Associated Press
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In this photo taken Oct. 5, 2012, Joe Galli, an independent voter, holds up a sign for the team he'll be voting for in November, in Portsmouth, N.H. New Hampshire's nickname is "the Granite State" but there's nothing solid about its political landscape. Independent voters have been the reason in recent presidential elections. Today, former factory towns to the south _ Manchester and Nashua _ typically vote Republican as do the rural small towns up north, while state capital Concord and university towns like Durham, Dover, Keene and Hanover tend to lean Democratic. And the entire state is peppered with independents like Joe and Thyra Galli of Portsmouth. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Tiny New Hampshire has fewer Electoral College votes than any other swing state, but in an era of close presidential races, both parties' candidates have long had it on their target lists.

That's because despite being known as "the Granite State," there's nothing solid about New Hampshire's political landscape.

Nearly 40 percent of registered voters don't align themselves with the Democrats or the Republicans. The state also has been shifting from reliably Republican to Democrat-tilting bellwether since Democrat Bill Clinton won it in 1992.

In 2004, New Hampshire was the only state to flip from Republican to Democrat.

Democrat Barack Obama won the state in 2008, but Republicans have made huge gains since then. They reclaimed New Hampshire's second congressional seat in 2010 while winning commanding majorities at the Statehouse.

An occasional look at how and why various states became presidential battlegrounds.