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Professor claims New Hampshire decision on ballot order sealed Clinton win
Published: Wednesday January 9, 2008 | StumbleUpon
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A Stanford University professor of political science and psychology claims a decision New Hampshire made to change the ordering of their primary ballot may have pushed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over the top.

Clinton's New Hampshire victory left pundits scratching their heads, citing polls that showed Obama with a relatively consistent lead. Writing Wednesday on ABC News, professor Jon Krosnick believes he has part of the answer.

Until this year, he says, the Granite State rotated candidate's names on the ballots, citing a statistical analysis that showed those who were listed earlier generally did better.

"Without a doubt, a big source of the discrepancy between the pre-election surveys and the election outcome in New Hampshire is the order of candidates' names on the ballot and in the surveys," Krosnick wrote. "Our analysis of all recent primaries in New Hampshire showed that there was always a big primacy effect -- big name, big-vote-getting candidates got 3 percent or more votes more when listed first on the ballot than when listed last."

"Until this year, New Hampshire rotated candidate name order from precinct to precinct, which allowed us to do that analysis," he added. "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 for 2008 was Z. Thus, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) was listed first, with Clinton near the top -- "the first serious contender listed" -- and Sen. Barack Obama (D-NH) close to last of the 21 candidates.

"I'll bet that Clinton got at least 3 percent more votes than Obama simply because she was listed close to the top," he writes. "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."

Still, the professor's analysis doesn't account for the fact that pre-election polls showed Obama with as much as a nine-point lead prior to the vote.