One of my guys in New Hampshire went through the list of major newspapers in his state.
The Union Leader, in Manchester, is influential in that city and the north country. In the past it has been furiously, wildly conservative, and its editorial page is much milder than the days, of say, Edmund Muskie railing against the paper’s attacks on his wife in the snow.“The editorial page has come mainstream quite a bit, but everybody in New Hampshire knows it, and they know what they’re getting… That ain’t that lefty rag in Concord.” This paper endorsed McCain.
The Concord Monitor, my New Hampshire guy said, has influence in its own city, and in Merrimack, but its endorsement mostly carries weight with independents and Democrats, not so much with Republicans. “It’s a really great community newspaper, not so great as a state capitol paper. You read it because you want to read about Concord but if you want to read about what’s going on in state politics, it’s never quite up to par. John DiStaso’s column [in the Union Leader] much more influential – people gab about it.” The Monitor has not yet
The Nashua Telegraph, my guy says, has close to 100 percent of its readership living or working in Massachusetts, and thus its coverage is tailored to people who work in Massachusetts but live in New Hampshire. “They pick it up in the morning, throw it in the car, drive across the state line, and read it on their lunch break at work,” my New Hampshire guy says.
The Fosters Daily Democrat is “interesting and influential – it’s a Republican paper, but it’s not read as an ideological paper. It’s not like reading National Review.” It’s sister paper is Laconia Citizen. They endorsed Rudy Giuliani.
The two biggest papers in neighboring Massachusetts have considerable penetration in the Granite State, with differing levels and styles of influence. The Globe is probably read as much as any other paper in the state, but mostly for its encyclopedic coverage of Boston sports teams. The Herald, the more conservative paper out of Boston, is probably read more cover to cover, because its articles are shorter, punchier, and funnier columnists. It, too, is often picked up just for the sports coverage.
The point of all this is that none of them have endorsed Romney, and some, in fact, seem to be in a contest to see who can criticize him the most.
Today’s Union Leader: “THERE IS A reason Mitt Romney has not received a single newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire. It’s the same reason his poll numbers are dropping. He has not been able to convince the people of this state that he’s the conservative he says he is.”
The Concord Monitor, earlier in the week: “Add it all up and you get Mitt Romney, a disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped.
At some point, with Iowa looking shaky and McCain looking strong in New Hampshire, Romney’s campaign is probably going to have to put up a “contrast ad” up on N.H. airwaves that some are going to accuse of being a negative ad. When that occurs, Romney won’t have any paper in the state saying, “this isn’t mudslinging, this is a fair and legitimate line of argument”; in fact, he’ll probably get exactly the opposite.