Is Chris Christie the Candidate Who Can Win New Hampshire?

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Is Chris Christie the Candidate Who Can Win New Hampshire?

Drew Cline makes the case that Chris Christie is the kind of candidate who could win the New Hampshire primary:

Journalists and professional political consultants parse the details of every policy position, while voters size up candidates in a more personal way. New Hampshire Republicans react well to bold candidates with strong personalities — John McCain, Pat Buchanan, Ronald Reagan — even if they disagree with those candidates on some issues. New Hampshire is almost tailor-made for Christie, who takes big political risks and can work a room like no other 2016 hopeful. That he has to win New Hampshire gives him all the more incentive to give the state the full Christie.

When he stumped for Romney in 2012, the chatter among Republicans was that the surrogate outshone the nominee. That was the case again last year when Christie made four visits on behalf of gubernatorial nominee Walt Havenstein. When Christie is in the room, all eyes turn to him. He is a carousel placed in the center of the banquet hall of a non-descript chain hotel.

As Christie lit up a capacity crowd at a town hall meeting in Londonderry on Wednesday, drawing many rounds of applause, the national political website Political Wire posted a headline calling him a “dead man walking in New Hampshire.” The same was said about John McCain in 2007. He did not lead a single poll from June 5 to Dec. 31, 2007. He beat Romney by 5.5 points. He did it by holding dozens of town hall meetings across the state, talking directly to voters and gaining voters’ trust — which is exactly what Christie intends to do.

You’re familiar with my insider, elitist, RINO, Georgetown-cocktail-party-driven anti-corn, unreasonable, extremist un-American jihad against the Iowa caucuses. Credit the New Hampshire primaries for high turnout, and the winners in the Granite State tend to do better than Iowa’s winners. “In fourteen contested nominations from 1972 to 2004, the eventual nominee won the New Hampshire primary nine times and placed second five times; no candidate placing third or lower ever went on to win the nomination.” In 2008, Hillary won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire but McCain won the GOP primary; in 2012, Romney won New Hampshire.

Having said that, because of the independents voting in the GOP primary, the New Hampshire primary tends to lean more libertarian or economic-issue-oriented. As one consultant once put it to me, the average GOP primary voter in New Hampshire is a big guy in a red plaid shirt with three days’ growth on his face, who works construction or contracting, owns a snowplow business on the side and who wants his taxes and regulatory paperwork low. Oh, and there’s one other extremely high priority for New Hampshire Republicans: Contradict Iowa Republicans. Because if they assent to Iowa’s choice, Iowa becomes more important.

Sure, Christie’s big personality might play well in New Hampshire. But can you scale that up to bigger states as the race go on? What do you do when the states are bigger, and you don’t have the time to reach everybody through town halls?