This time, however, the proportions may well be reversed. As many as two-thirds of independents at the polls Tuesday are expected to vote Democratic, shrinking the pool of free-thinking, late-deciding voters responsible for Senator McCain's triumph in 2000 and throwing a windfall to Sen. Barack Obama, who was buoyed by independents in Iowa.
The shifting political landscape is mainly a product of demographics. New Hampshire is the fastest-growing state in New England, growing more than 6 percent since 2000 as the Massachusetts suburbs sprawl northward, baby boomers retire to their second homes, and vibrant high-tech and healthcare industries draw affluent city dwellers from across the country.
Around Dartmouth College in Hanover, gleaming new buildings of startup companies poke out from the woods. Upscale retirement communities with names like RiverWoods are booming. And in cities like Manchester, long-vacant mill buildings have been remade into lofts and office space.