14 key NH cities, wards, towns to watch for early signs of final results after polls close Tuesday
14 key NH cities, wards, towns to watch for early signs of final results after polls close Tuesday

By John DiStaso


When the vote totals begin flowing in from cities and towns across the state Tuesday night, everyone from candidates and their staffs to political analysts and commentators to interested rank-and-file voters will immediately start looking for clues of the outcome.

Social media will light up when the first New Hampshire votes arrive, and attempts at analysis and predictions will begin.

As the night goes on, where should you look for meaningful results and what should you be looking for?

It’s not just a matter of who wins or who loses a particular city ward or town. According to longtime political observers on both sides of the proverbial aisle, it’s all about the margins of wins and losses in those cities and towns and how they compare to past elections.

In the presidential race, it’s won’t be news if Donald Trump wins heavily Republican Bedford or if Joe Biden wins Democratic bastion Portsmouth. It’s all about the margins in these and other locations.

Also watch closely bellwether communities with evenly divided voter registrations.

Here’s a look at 14 key cities, wards and towns, their latest registration numbers and how they voted in the 2016 presidential election. In that election in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump but by the narrowest of margins — 2,736 votes out of 755,850 votes cast.

In the key locations in the 1st Congressional District, we add the results of the 2016 race between former U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, and Frank Guinta, a Republican. Shea-Porter narrowly won that race by a margin of 162,080 to 157,176.

These results may serve as a benchmark for watching the results of the current race between Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas and Republican challenger Matt Mowers, which is expected to be the closest among the top New Hampshire contests.

Manchester Ward 1

Ward 1, a Democratic stronghold, is among the first locations to report totals. The registration numbers, as of Sept. 8, are 2,400 Democrats, 1,970 Republicans and 2,293 undeclared voters.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the ward, 2,988 to 2,231 over Trump. Shea-Porter defeated Guinta, 2,646 to 2,102.

Manchester Ward 6

Almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, Ward 6 has 1,921 registered Republicans, 1,883 registered Democrats and 2,136 undeclared voters.

Trump won the ward, 2,493 to 2,220, in 2016, while Shea-Porter edged Guinta, 2,147 to 2,118.

Manchester Ward 8

A Republican ward in this mostly Democratic city, Ward 8 has 1,935 registered Republicans, 1,799 Democrats and 2,282 undeclared voters.

Trump won the ward four years ago by a margin of 2,633 to 2,144. Guinta defeated Shea-Porter, 2,221 to 2,076.


This blue collar Hillsborough County town traditionally been Republican, but Democrats believe it is “transitioning” their way. It has 3,918 registered Republicans, 3,725 registered Democrats and 4,666 registered undeclared voters.

In 2016, Milford barely favored Trump, 3,850 to 3,816. The town is in the 2nd Congressional District.


Amherst used to be a solidly Republican town, but in recent years it has shifted to an even split. As of September, there are actually four more Democrats than Republicans. The numbers show 2,768 registered Republicans, 2,772 registered Democrats and 3,151 undeclared voters.

In 2016, Amherst narrowly favored Clinton over Trump: 3,777 to 3,271. Amherst is in the 2nd Congressional District.


Bedford is a wealthy Republican town that is a “must” strong showing for Trump and the GOP candidates who follow him on the ticket.

September registration figures show 7,649 Republicans, 4,832 Democrats and 5,973 undeclared voters.

In 2016, Trump’s win there was narrower than the recent registration figures would suggest – 6,816 to 5,851 for Clinton. Guinta easily defeated Shea-Porter, however — 6,569 to 4,886.


This college town should continue to heavily favor Democrats, even with some students not on campus and learning remotely from elsewhere. September registration numbers show 7,532 Democrats, 2,660 Republicans and 7,231 undeclared voters.

Durham favored Clinton by a margin of 6,501 to 2,450 for Trump and favored Shea-Porter, 5,871 to 2,430.


Portsmouth is among the most liberal cities in the state, with 9,650 Democrats, 3,803 Republicans and 6,227 undeclared voters.

Clinton received 8,911 votes in Portsmouth, to 3,632 for Trump. Shea-Porter defeated Guinta there 8,056 to 2,799. Democrats expect Biden to better Clinton’s margin of victory on Tuesday.


Rochester is almost evenly split, with 6,552 Republicans, 6,753 Democrats and 8,403 undeclared voters.

In 2016, Trump received 7,789 votes to 6,267 for Clinton. Shea-Porter received 6,387 votes in Rochester, which is her home city, while received Guinta 6,277 votes.


Blue-collar Claremont is viewed as a genuine bellwether community. It’s registration is currently 2,389 Democrats, 1,927 Republicans and 2,070 undeclared voters but four years ago it favored Trump over Clinton, 2,680 to 2,529.

Claremont is in the 2nd Congressional District.


The mostly Republican city has 4,075 Republicans, 3,105 Democrats and 4,209 undeclared voters. In 2016, Trump received 4,303 votes while Clinton received 3,303. Guinta received 3,740 votes, to 3,222 for Shea-Porter.


This Mount Washington Valley hub has 2,598 Democrats, 2,139 Republicans and 3,386 undeclared voters. In 2016, Clinton received 2,717 votes, while Trump received, 2,204. Shea-Porter defeated Guinta, 2,452 votes to 1,765 votes.


This small Cheshire County community has 1,562 registered Democrats, 1,377 registered Republicans and 1,943 registered undeclared voters. In 2016, the difference was 21 votes, with Trump winning, receiving 1,828 votes and Clinton receiving 1,807.

Swanzey is in the 2nd Congressional District.


This Merrimack County community is almost evenly divided among Republicans (2,193), Democrats (2,149) and undeclared voters (2,043).

The town favored Clinton in 2016 by a margin of 2,570 votes to 2,119 votes. It is in the 2nd Congressional District.

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