Quote of the Day: New Hampshire Is All About Independents
Our political Quote of the Day comes from CNN independent analyst John Avlon who notes that New Hampshire is all about independents. Some quotes from his post that needs to be read in its entirety:
New Hampshire is all about the independents. And that’s why it’s the best test of general election electability.
While Iowa’s caucuses are disproportionately dominated by social conservatives, in New Hampshire’s open primary, independents can vote — and they make up more than 40% of the local electorate.
That’s right — in New Hampshire, registered independents outnumber Republicans or Democrats.
It’s a libertarian instinct reflected in the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die.” It’s captured in the wonderful fact that in the northern town named “Freedom,” independents make up the bulk of the 1,000-plus voters.
It’s also reflected in the fact that New Hampshire is one of the least religious states in the nation.
Bravo to Avlon for pointing this out. Too often during Presidential election years analysts lose sight of the important demographic differences in key states. MORE:
To add to its relevance, New Hampshire is a general election swing state, unlike, say, South Carolina. Decades ago the Granite State was considered rock-ribbed Republican, but as the national Republican Party moved further right, especially on social issues, New Hampshire — like much of the Northeast — started to declare its independence.
Bill Clinton won the state twice in the 1990s, George W. Bush won it in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
To add to the portrait of swing state diversity, the state’s two senators are split between Republicans and Democrats — Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen. The state’s governor, John Lynch, is a centrist Democrat who was re-elected by a 75-25 margin and is serving his fourth term. He is not running for re-election in 2012.
Mitt Romney has enjoyed a double-digit lead in New Hampshire for months. It’s not surprising — the former Massachusetts governor came in second to John McCain there in 2008. Romney holds the distinction of being the only statewide elected official from Massachusetts who failed to win the New Hampshire primary.
John McCain’s endorsement of Romney is intended to solidify the front-runner’s status as the candidate of the responsible center-right. But even with the two-time New Hampshire primary winner’s benediction, Romney could see tightening margins in the final days before Tuesday’s vote.
Avlon mentions Jon Huntsman. Huntsman is the sad case of a candidate whose time may have passed: today’s Republican Party doesn’t seem to have a place for him at the top. Many of today’s GOPers will never forgive him for serving in the Obama administration. P-E-R-I-O-D. And (unless results prove me wrong, in which case I’ll do like most of the media does with the conventional wisdom that proves wrong: I’ll never mention what I said in this post ever again and act as if I knew what happened was going to happen) him winning or wowwing ’em in New Hampshire now seems highly unlikely.
Every Presidential election cycle there is a candidate that seems to be just right as Presidential material but never quite makes the leap. At this writing, Huntsman is it.
New Hampshire is a very healthy stop for the GOP during the January gantlet, positioned between Iowa and South Carolina. It gives the Republican Party a primary electorate that is representative of the audience the nominee will need to appeal to in November. Florida is a broadly diverse state, but it still has a closed primary. Open primaries offer the broadest choice and the best test of national electability, focusing on fiscal issues rather than social issues.
New Hampshire offers the antidote to a polarized Republican Party whose primaries are too often distorted by the fringe blurring with the base.
It is a state where centrist candidates are rewarded, reinforcing the wisdom that presidential elections are won by the candidate who connects best with moderates and the middle class.
The problem here, of course is this:
Those of us who are centrists, moderates and independent voters who are following what Republicans running for President and who have talk shows say know fully well now what they think of us.
And it does, you know, have an impact on what we think of them.
Photo via shutterstock.com