There is one big difference between the two states, and that is the number of people who have no religious affiliation. According to Pew, about 15 percent of Iowans say they have no affiliation — nearly right on the national average of 16 percent. But in New Hampshire, 26 percent have no religious affiliation — well above the national average.
So is New Hampshire just too godless to pick a president? Of course not. States differ in their balance of faith and non-faith, and when you add up the early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada — you get a pretty good mix. New Hampshire is as qualified as any to make a political statement. But it will be interesting to see if commentators who fretted about Iowa’s religiosity will be equally concerned about New Hampshire’s non-religiosity.
In the heat of a campaign, it’s difficult to speak with much subtlety about the role religion plays in voting. “The entrance polls measure religion very crudely,” says John C. Green, professor of politics at the University of Akron and a top authority on evangelicals in politics. “A lot of the ‘evangelicals’ in Iowa may belong to mainline Protestant churches or even be Catholic.”