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New Voters Could Change The Outcome Of New Hampshire Primary

DURHAM, N.H. (CBS) -- If the 2016 contest is any indication, more than half-a-million people are expected to vote in the New Hampshire primary. But that may be where comparisons to the last election end.

A lot has changed in New Hampshire since the last presidential race, including the voters.

"I care a medium amount about politics," said Jovani Rosborough.

She represents one group of new New Hampshire voters: people who moved here after the last election. And right now, she's in demand.

"The Elizabeth Warren people are trying to find you. The Bernie Sanders people are trying to find you. Especially on this campus, there are a lot of people everywhere," she said.

Another group of new voters: those who just turned 18.

"I was two days too young in the last presidential election so when that finally comes, I'm sure excited for that," another woman said.

"This population has changed significantly," said University of New Hampshire professor Ken Johnson. His new study is a deep dive into voter demographics. "The study told us that there are a lot of new voters in New Hampshire."

They represent a significant turnover in the population. Almost 20 percent of the 2020 primary voters didn't live in New Hampshire, or weren't old enough to vote, four years ago.

University of New Hampshire professor Ken Johnson is studying voter demographics in New Hampshire (WBZ-TV)

Only one-third of New Hampshire residents 25 and older were born here.

"In fact, it has one of the most mobile populations in the United States. Only five or six states have more people who were born outside the state than live in the state," explained Johnson.

So who is moving to New Hampshire? Johnson said the largest group of migrants is from Massachusetts, people in their 30's and 40's with kids, with slightly higher incomes and more education than the general population. They tend to be somewhat more politically liberal.

With all these changes in New Hampshire, Johnson said the 2016 election is not any indication of what will happen Tuesday.

"They're not talking to the same people they were four or eight years ago," Johnson said.

Young people are eager to be part of the process.

"It's definitely exciting to vote for the first time," one man said.

"We're the new generation and we have the ability to make change. So yeah, I think it is definitely is important," a woman added.

The effect of student excitement could be a key involvement in the nation's first primary.

According to Johnson, "It doesn't take much to change what happens in the state, it's a small state. A few thousand votes one way or the other can make a difference in who wins and who doesn't."

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