Tags: New Hampshire

Reason for GOP Optimism . . . and Pessimism in New Hampshire


If you’re looking for affirmation that the New England College poll showing Scott Brown ahead of Senator Jeanne Shaheen by one point is accurately showing the winner, here’s one nugget to make you feel good . . . 

The final New England College poll of 2012 in the presidential race in New Hampshire had President Obama with 50, Romney 46 percent. The final results were Obama 52 percent, Romney 46 percent. Ironically, every other pollster’s final survey in the state showed Obama with a lead of 3 points or less.

On the other hand, if you subscribe to the theory that the “who do you think will win?” question is a better indicator of the likely winner, the Granite State Poll, sponsored by WMUR and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found 55 percent of likely voters think Shaheen will be re-elected, only 30 percent think Brown will win, and 15 percent are unsure. The polls “final prediction for the NH Senate race is 49% for Shaheen and 48% for Brown.”

At this point, the only really surprising result would be one candidate winning by a significant margin.

Tags: Scott Brown , Jeanne Shaheen , New Hampshire

Come on, New Hampshire. Let’s Make Sam Wang Eat a Bug.


CNN, out today:

A new CNN/ORC poll shows a statistical dead heat between New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her GOP opponent Scott Brown, with Shaheen at 49 percent, Brown at 47 percent, and a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.

ARG, out today: Jeanne Shaheen 49 percent, Scott Brown 48 percent. 

Come on, New Hampshire. Let’s make Sam Wang eat a bug.

Tags: New Hampshire , Jeanne Shaheen , Scott Brown

CNN Poll in New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen 48 Percent, Scott Brown 48 Percent


We’ve seen three public polls of New Hampshire’s Senate race since July. WMUR put incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen up by 2; YouGov put her up by 6.

And now:

Think about it, New Hampshire. You have the power in your hands . . . to make a Princeton professor eat a bug:

Tags: Jeanne Shaheen , Scott Brown , New Hampshire

Biden’s Strangely Political ‘Official’ Visit to New England


Vice President Joe Biden travels to New Hampshire and Maine today:

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to tour the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard this morning, an event we are told will highlight the shipyard’s work-force engagement. 

Also attending will be U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, representing New Hampshire, along with U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, from Maine — all Democrats.

But it’s totally not a political campaign event, honest!

(Note Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire’s other senator, was not invited to the allegedly non-partisan event.)

Once and perhaps future U.S. Senator Scott Brown welcomes the Vice President to the Granite State with this video:

VICE PRESIDENT BIDENPresident Obama has made those hard calls with strength and steadiness.
And the reason he’s been able to is because he had clear goals and clear strategy how to achieve those goals.
He had a clear vision and has a clear vision for America’s place in the world

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We don’t have a strategy yet.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I am very optimistic about Iraq. I think it is going to be one of the great achievements of this administration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We don’t, we don’t have a strategy.

Tags: Joe Biden , Barack Obama , New Hampshire , Scott Brown

The First Votes of the Next GOP Presidential Primary Will Be Cast in February 2016


The Republican National Committee adopted new rules for the 2016 presidential primary today:

o The carve outs (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) remain in February

o Other states can start their contests on or after March 1

o The proportional window is reinstated but for a shorter duration. Any contest between March 1st and March 14th will be proportional

(This means that the early states cannot allocate their delegates in a winner-take-all format.)

o Any contest after March 14th can go proportional or winner take all

o The window for selection of alternates and delegates moved from 35 days before the convention to 45 days before the convention. There is a waiver process for states that are required by law to hold a primary but are not in compliance with the 45 day window and aren’t under Republican control.

o New penalties: “If any state or state Republican Party violates Rule No. 16(c)(1) of The Rules of the Republican Party, the number of delegates to the national convention shall be reduced for those states with 30 or more total delegates to nine (9) plus the members of the Republican National Committee from that state, and for those states with 29 or fewer total delegates to six (6) plus the members of the Republican National Committee from that state. The corresponding alternate delegates shall also be reduced accordingly.

March 1 is a Tuesday, so look for that to become the new Super Tuesday.

If the first four states space themselves out, the Iowa caucus will be February 2, 2016 (Groundhog Day!), the New Hampshire primary will be February 9, the South Carolina primary will be February 16, and the Nevada caucus will be February 23. (UPDATE: University of Iowa professor Tim Hagle tweets that the Iowa caucuses are usually held on a Monday, so he thinks it’s more likely that the caucus will be February 1.)

The RNC also named twelve members to its 2016 Convention Site Selection Committee. The RNC has not specified the date of the convention, but chairman Reince Priebus said he wants a “late June, early July” convention. In recent cycles, the parties have held their conventions in late August or early September, trying to get their post-convention bump as close to the fall campaign as possible.

Cities competing to host the 2016 Republican convention include Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Kansas City, and Columbus, Ohio.

Tags: Iowa , New Hampshire , 2016 , RNC

Fifty States of Obamacare Confusion, Stress, and Aggravation


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Fifty States of Obamacare Confusion, Stress, and Aggravation

No matter where you live in the United States, Obamacare is causing headaches, stress, and aggravation for someone near you.

In New Hampshire, vending-machine manufacturers are gasping at the new law’s requirements that calorie information be displayed on roughly 5 million vending machines – not just on the packaging of the food inside, but on the vending machine itself:

Carol Brennan, who owns Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry, said she doesn’t yet know how she will handle the regulations, but she doesn’t like them. She has five employees servicing hundreds of machines and says she’ll be forced to limit the items offered so her employees don’t spend too much time updating the calorie counts.

“It is outrageous for us to have to do this on all our equipment,” she said.

Brennan also doubts that consumers will benefit from the calorie information.

“How many people have not read a label on a candy bar?” she said. “If you’re concerned about it, you’ve already read it for years.”

To the Obama administration and their fans, America’s businesses are giant, bottomless barrels of money, time, and energy whose purpose in life is to be directed and redirected at the whims of those wise folks in Washington, in order to achieve the visionary “social justice” goal of telling people that, say, a candy bar isn’t nutritious or healthy for them.

In most states, the current worst stress and headache stems from people who think they’ve signed up for insurance through the state or federal exchanges but who haven’t yet gotten their confirmation or insurance cards from the insurance companies.

In Connecticut:

More than 34,000 state residents were slated to begin new private insurance plans Wednesday as part of the federal health law. But as the new year began, many people who bought policies through the state’s health insurance exchange still hadn’t received their first premium bills, which must be paid by Jan. 10 to get coverage this month.

In Vermont:

The state’s largest hospital had almost two dozen patients seek treatment with health insurance policies provided through Vermont’s health overhaul system since the start of the year, yet more than half of those did not have insurance cards, an official at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care said Thursday.

In Massachusetts:

Jessica Stanford of Sharon, Mass., is 40 and newly pregnant. She’d really like to see a doctor soon because she’s had several miscarriages and developed gestational diabetes during her last pregnancy. But she doesn’t have health insurance and is worried about racking up medical bills.

Stanford applied for subsidized coverage in early December. She keeps calling the Connector to find out about her enrollment status. One customer rep told Stanford she could take her application number to a doctor’s office for proof that the state will cover her, at least temporarily, but Stanford wants something more certain.

The Connector says it has extended coverage, through March, to 254,000 residents who applied for free or subsidized insurance and all residents who have had government backed coverage.

The agency is sending out letters explaining a temporary coverage plan that begins today (Jan. 1) for 22,371 residents who, like Stanford, are applying for the first time.

But Stanford doesn’t have her letter. The Connector is trying to expedite Stanford’s case…

But it’s pretty obvious the application process is still a mess. Only 497 of the almost 50,000 applicants who filed online have a new ConnectorCare plan. The agency can’t say how long it will take to finish processing the other 45,000 applications or bring 89,000 residents who have subsidized coverage, but haven’t even started to re-enroll, into the new, post Obamacare plans.

I can hear you now – well, those are all New England states. The only guy who knows how to run anything up there is Bill Belichick.

But it’s not much better in the upper Midwest.

In Wisconsin, a new survey of employers by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce finds that “54 percent say that ACA has had a negative impact on their employees and 30 percent say it is too early to tell. Just 1 percent said the impact has been positive.”’

In Minnesota:

It’s a new year, but MNsure continues to wrestle with old problems involving its website and call center.

The application and account services portion of the state health exchange website was down Thursday afternoon for technical reasons.

“We are actively working on a resolution and ask that you visit us at a later time,” says a notice on the MNsure website. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Meanwhile, the average wait time for people calling MNsure for help on Thursday was 76 minutes. More than 2,200 calls had been received by MNsure as of 2 p.m.

For weeks, consumers have been frustrated by the combination of website glitches and lengthy waits at the MNsure call center.

Same bureaucratic nightmare in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Shannon Wendt was no fan of the Affordable Care Act, but when she found out her family’s high-deductible health insurance plan would be canceled, she tried to enroll in a new plan through the federal marketplace.

 And then she hit glitches – and not just the usual problems with a stalled website.

Despite roughly 25 hours on the phone with dozens of health insurance navigators and supervisors, she still has been unable to sign up for insurance. The reason: her five children are deemed ineligible.

. . . Working with navigators by phone, she filed and deleted an application 12 times. She had her husband set up a separate application, but that ran into problems.

At one point, a navigator said she may have to submit proof of citizenship for the children. All five children were born in the U.S., and all have social security numbers, she said.

“Nobody’s said anything about it since then,” she said. “That’s kind of my working assumption – that somehow our kids are not considered citizens and that’s why they were rejected.”

Chicago, Illinois:

Dr. John Venetos, a Chicago gastroenterologist, said there is “tremendous uncertainty and anxiety” among patients who have been calling his office, some of whom believe they have signed up for coverage but have not yet received insurance cards.

“They’re not sure if they have coverage. It puts the heavy work on the physician,” Venetos said. “At some point, every practice is going to make a decision about how long can they continue to see these patients for free if they are not getting paid.”

And no, it’s not much better in the mid-Atlantic, either.


Pennsylvanians who applied for health insurance through the federally run website and were found to be eligible or potentially eligible for Medicaid were cautioned Thursday by Gov. Tom Corbett’s office that they may not have coverage yet.

An administration spokesman said the federal government continues to have trouble transferring the electronic files of more than 25,000 applications to the state’s Department of Public Welfare.

Keep this in mind as Obamacare fans keep telling you that the website is fixed.

A similar story in Montgomery County, Maryland:

“Somebody just got hit by a car today, who’s on the way to the hospital right now, who thinks they have coverage,” says veteran Montgomery County insurance broker Jack Cohen.

That person might be mistaken if they think they are covered.

“If you say, ‘I’m covered, I signed up for coverage Jan. 1, I just don’t have the card yet,’ the doctor is going to see you, but they’re going to make you pay out of pocket,” said Cohen, who’s heard from irate customers who are worried their payments haven’t been processed.

In West Virginia:

A glitch on the federal health insurance marketplace has caused problems for about 18,000 West Virginians attempting to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act…

The federal website would have transferred accounts of those people on to the state, [Jeremiah Samples, assistant secretary for the state Department of Health and Human Resources] said. Instead, the federal website is sending only “flat files,” which have basic information about the person but not enough to sign them up for Medicaid, he said.

The DHHR is sending letters to those 10,000 people informing them they will need to sign up again via the state’s Medicaid website.

In Virginia, the mandate’s in effect . . . but the uninsured are telling the doctors the problem is the same as it was before: They just can’t afford it.

Even with the Affordable Care Act and possible Medicaid expansion in Virginia, the Free Clinic of Danville says they’ll still have constant traffic.

Staff members say they’ve had numerous patients inform them that even with subsidies, they’re still unable to afford health insurance premiums.

Turning South, in Texas the description is “a sort of chaos,” which is probably not that much better than just plain chaos:

The entire tracking system was “in a sort of chaos” Thursday as consumers tried to use or confirm their new insurance, said Kelly Fristoe, an insurance agent in Wichita Falls, Texas.

“I’ve got pharmacies that are calling in to verify benefits on these new plans that are getting incorrect information,” he said. “I have people that are calling to make their initial premium payment, and they’ve been on hold for maybe three or four hours at a time and then they get hung up on.”

North Carolina:

Months after problems plagued enrollment in the State Health plan, thousands of current and retired state workers continue to face obstacles.

The new coverage year began Jan. 1 but state officials acknowledged Thursday that 105,000 state employees, mostly those who work at government agencies, do not have insurance cards used to obtain medical care.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell’s office, which oversees the insurance plan that covers 660,000 state workers and retirees, says the cards are being processed and will be mailed soon.


The kind of quiet relief is what a Santa Rosa Beach couple, artist David Hart and his wife Karen, a marketing consultant, are yearning for. As the Washington Post reported on Sunday, the Harts signed up for a plan through the federal Marketplace and paid by phone on Dec. 19. But they got worried when the check to Florida Blue hadn’t been cashed by Dec. 27, and began making calls.

On Wednesday, Karen Hart told Health News Florida that their problem has not yet been resolved. Their application shows up as complete and paid on, she said, and they even have a payment confirmation number, but they haven’t been able to get Florida Blue to fix the problem.

“We’re now stuck in the middle,” Karen Hart says. “It’s been an absolute nightmare.”

In Tennessee, one of their senators is underlining the economic impact of the new law:

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. Secretary of Education, Thursday said that as school starts back up in 2014, Obamacare is forcing cuts in hours for employees, such as substitute teachers, in at least 11 Tennessee school districts ‘and likely many more,’ harming students’ education in the process

School districts reporting fiscal challenges because of Obamacare include: Carter County, Clarksville, Franklin Special School District, Johnson City, Maury County, Oneida Special School District, Rutherford County, Scott County, Stewart County, Washington County and Wilson County.

Nor are things much better out West. California’s just now realizing that the exchange isn’t sustainable, at least not the way it currently operates:

Covered California projects it will lose $78 million in the 2015-16 budget, and it is not clear how the health exchange plans to close that gap and become financially self-sustaining once federal grants run dry.

While the exchange says that it will increase revenue and trim expenses to bring its operating budget into balance, its budget documents make no definitive statements about how, exactly, it will reach financial equilibrium . . . 

Since its creation in 2010, the exchange has paid its bills with nearly $1 billion in federal grants. But, starting on Jan. 1, 2015, the Affordable Care Act forbids federal grants for health exchange operations. And state law prohibits dipping into California’s general fund to pay for exchange operations.

How long until we see state governors pushing to delay the deadline for financial sustainability? Federal bailouts forever! Elsewhere in the state:

In California, employees of the state health exchange were still going through some 19,000 paper applications sent in the early days after Covered California launched on Oct. 1, spokesman Dana Howard said. He could not say how many were outstanding.


A major health care overhaul begins on Jan. 1, but it’s proven to be a big pain for many Oregonians.

Some people say they won’t have insurance in the New Year, despite their attempts to enroll in Cover Oregon.

 “I have spent a total of four hours on hold to no avail. I had a contracted insurance broker submit the application for me on December 4th but have never received a packet,” one viewer wrote to KATU in an email. “So frustrating as I really need coverage ASAP.” 

“I was in their system on every other call today. Now I am not,” another man wrote in an email to KATU. “I am disabled and need my insurance!”

In Washington, the good news is that the state can only take money from your heirs after you die to recover long-term care costs, not routine costs. Now you can rest in peace!

Washington’s Health Care Authority, as promised, has filed an emergency rule to amend Medicaid’s estate recovery policy.

Current policy allows Medicaid to recover all medical costs from a client’s estate after death, which caused some consternation among those signing up for health insurance through the state’s expanded Medicaid program. The change means that Medicaid can only recover costs related to long-term care services.

The emergency rule-making order, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014, said the change was made to “eliminate a barrier to applying for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”

Hope you like paying higher premiums, Hawaii:

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday the state Insurance Division approved increases of 9.2 percent for 11,000 individual plans and 5 percent for 26,300 small business plans administered by Kaiser. HMSA will be allowed to increase rates on 14,300 individual plans by 7.5 percent. HMSA increased small business rates by 6.8 percent for 118,000 members earlier this year.

Insurers say the increases are necessary to cover higher medical expenses, taxes and fees anticipated under the Affordable Care Act.

Tags: Obamacare , New Hampshire , Vermont , Massachusetts , Pennsylvania , West Virginia , Iowa

Romney Narrowly Holding Bellwether Ohio County, N.H. Towns


Credit Suffolk for doing some of the most interesting polling of this cycle. Rather than toss another statewide poll onto the pile, they took a detailed look at one bellwether county in Ohio and two bellwether towns in New Hampshire. The verdict? Good news for Romney, but not much room for comfort:

In Lake County, Romney led Obama 47 percent to 43 percent with Independent Richard Duncan receiving 4 percent and Stewart Alexander (Socialist Party) receiving 1 percent, while 2 percent were undecided and 4 percent refused a response. Romney led 49 percent to 44 percent among those planning to cast ballots and led 43 percent to 41 percent among those who had already voted. Duncan, an Ohioan listed on the presidential ballot, received most of his support from voters who have already cast ballots for him in Lake County, causing neither major candidate to reach a decisive 50 percent there.

“What better place to decide this presidential election than on the banks of Lake Erie,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “A word of caution about Lake County. It is widely recognized as an Ohio bellwether, correctly predicting the last four presidential elections. But there have been some elections where it has trended more Republican. That was the case in 1996 and 2008, where Lake County voted for the Democratic nominees who won, but still leaned more Republican than the statewide vote.”

Meanwhile, over in the Granite State:

Two New Hampshire towns, Epping and Milford, have mirrored the statewide New Hampshire vote in four out of four presidential elections going back to 1996. In Milford, Romney led Obama 51 percent to 46 percent and in Epping, a closer bellwether, Romney led Obama 49 percent to 47 percent.

At the link they provide the history of the county and towns and how they compare statewide.

Of course, any trend may be broken. Vigo County, Indiana, is a county that has voted for the winner in every election since 1956 and is being mentioned as a bellwether again this cycle — except the Obama campaign hasn’t really contested Indiana this cycle, and Romney’s expected to win the state by a healthy margin — so perhaps the dynamics in Vigo won’t be quite as representative of the country as a whole this cycle.

One local station did call 100 residents, a quite small sample: “The result: 42 residents planning to vote for President Barack Obama and 48 in favor of Governor Mitt Romney; which matches other polls across the country.”

The web-comic XKCD made a humorous observation about precedents in presidential campaigns.

Tags: Barack Obama , Indiana , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Ohio

Who Pays When the President Campaigns in a Small Town?


Today President Obama holds a campaign event in Durham, New Hampshire. The cost to the town in police and fire overtime expenses are estimated to be $20,000 to $30,000. There are 10,345 residents in Durham, according to the last census, meaning the cost for this one event would be roughly $2-$3 per person.

Durham lawmakers, including town-council chairman Jay Gooze (a Democrat), asked the Obama campaign to cover some of those costs; the campaign declined, contending that as a private organization they do not participate in security or traffic-control planning. They referred the inquiry to the Secret Service.

An anonymous local resident has offered to pay those costs, but there’s a question of whether this would amount to an in-kind donation to the campaign.

Here’s how it’s playing on television in the region:

Tags: Barack Obama , New Hampshire

Romney, Winning the Direct-Mail Fight in New Hampshire by TKO


Patrick Hynes, a New Hampshire–based strategist who worked on web communications for John McCain last cycle, offers this observation about how one presidential candidate had a great voter-outreach program in his home state . . . and others did not.

My take away: Campaigns matter.

When wannabe best selling authors and personal brand-obsessed politicians pose as presidential candidates it cheapens the process. In my New Hampshire household is one registered Republican and an Undeclared voter who regularly pulls a Republican ballot. Only one presidential candidate asked us for our votes: Mitt Romney.

We received no fewer than five pieces of direct mail from his campaign; zero from all the other campaigns combined. We were invited to no fewer than three town hall events and two rallies by Romney’s campaign; again, zero from all the other campaigns combined.

It is insulting when politicians who are more interested in selling books or securing cable news contracts prostitute the system for their own gain. We shouldn’t put up with it anymore.

Romney won New Hampshire the way John McCain and Pat Buchanan won it before him: By respectfully soliciting and earning support. He deserved it.

Tags: Mitt Romney , New Hampshire

Mitt Romney’s Prevent Defense


In the first Morning Jolt of the week of the New Hampshire primary . . .

My Baloney Has a First Name, It’s P-I-O-U-S . . .

Saturday night’s Contraception Debate was a bore and an astonishing waste of time. I spent Sunday morning with my boys, so I missed what happened when everybody not named Mitt Romney remembered that they forgot to go after Mitt Romney Saturday Night. It began:

In the debate, sponsored by “Meet the Press” and Facebook, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, disputed Mr. Romney’s assertions that he was not a lifetime politician, saying, “Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?”

“You have been running consistently for years and years and years,” Mr. Gingrich said, looking directly at his rival. He added: “Just level with the American people. You’ve been running for — at least since the 1990s.”

Mr. Gingrich also attacked Mr. Romney’s tenure at the investment firm Bain, accusing him of pillaging companies and cutting jobs to enrich himself and his colleagues. He compared him unfavorably with two other presidential candidates from Massachusetts: former Gov. Michael Dukakis and Senator John Kerry, both Democrats who were defeated.

Ben Smith has Newt’s full jab: “You had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president. You didn’t have this interlude of . . . citizenship while you thought about what to do. You were running for president while you were governor. You were gone all over the country. You were — you were out of state consistently. You then promptly reentered politics. You happened to lose to McCain as you had lost to Kennedy.”

Doug Mataconis reacted, “Some of post-debate spin is asserting that this debate could hurt Romney in the final hours of the New Hampshire campaign, but that seems pretty unlikely given the size of Romney’s lead in the Granite State. If there is an impact, it’s likely to be one that helps Jon Huntsman a little bit, although probably not enough to give him an argument for going forward. It’s possible that the debate will have some impact on the race in South Carolina, which is where all of this is really heading, the problem for the ‘Not Romney’ crowd, though, is that it’s likely to help Romney more than it hurts him. The reason for that is that, paradoxically, this debate and the previous one were relatively good for all of the ‘Not Romney’s,’ especially including Rick Perry, and as long as the anti-Romney vote in South Carolina is divided, Romney benefits.”

Phil Klein, among those least inclined to applaud a Romney nomination from the start, laments, “over the past several months, rivals hardly laid a glove on Romney. Perry had one disastrous debate performance after another and dropped like a rock in the polls. After a succession of candidates rose and fell, eventually Rick Santorum emerged as the leading conservative alternative to Romney. And Huntsman, boring and obnoxious in debates, never took off in New Hampshire. So what we’re left with is a situation in which Romney is so far ahead in his quest for the GOP nomination, that barring a major catastrophe, he’s unlikely to lose. In football terms, he’s in the prevent defense — able to surrender lots of yardage to his opponents in the middle of the field and still win as long as he doesn’t turn over the ball . . . Romney’s rivals may have scored some points today. But given that Romney is several touchdowns ahead late in the fourth quarter, it’s unlikely that it will alter the outcome of the game.”

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum

Can Romney Beat His 2008 Finish in Iowa?


Reagan biographer* Craig Shirley points out that in 2008, Mitt Romney won 25.19 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.

A big question will be whether he surpasses that this year. In the past four polls in Iowa, Romney finished with 23 percent, 19 percent, 24 percent, and 23 percent.

By many standards, the 2008 field of Republican competitors in Iowa was stronger than this one. Ron Paul remains, but last cycle’s class included a three-term governor with fantastic retail politicking skills (Mike Huckabee), a two-term senator famous from Hollywood and prime-time television (Fred Thompson), and two candidates who chose to not compete fully in Iowa, a four-term senator who had finished second in the 2000 presidential campaign (John McCain) and a two-term New York City mayor with a national reputation for leadership after 9/11 who was Time’s Man of the Year in 2001 (Rudy Giuliani).

This year’s crop includes a former Speaker of the House who has been out of office since 1998 (Newt Gingrich), a member of the House first elected in 2006 (Michele Bachmann), a four-term governor (Rick Perry), and a senator who lost his seat in 2006 by a landslide (Rick Santorum).

A core element of Romney’s argument is that he is the most electable Republican in the field. But if he can’t surpass his previous threshold in Iowa — or perhaps another threshold, his 30,021 votes from last cycle — one will wonder why the most-electable Romney can’t beat his previous finish against weaker competition.

(In Romney’s favor, he’s currently at 40.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of recent New Hampshire polls. Last cycle he finished with 31.5 percent of the vote and 75,675 votes.)

Still, another wise GOP mind points out that with Romney and Paul seeming to be assured of finishing first and second, the real contest is for the bronze medal. Ron Paul will always have his level of support but seems unlikely to break out; in a year of rapid bursts and collapses of frontrunners, Paul’s share of the vote remains between 5 percent and 15 percent in every national poll. If there will be a strong push from an anti-Romney conservative candidate, it is most likely to be the one who finishes first among Santorum, Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich.

UPDATE: Some readers think it is worth noting that Shirley’s next book is an authorized biography of Newt Gingrich, entitled Citizen Newt: The Rise, Fall, and Future of Speaker Gingrich.

Tags: Iowa , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Ron Paul

Magellan: Yup, Romney Still Ahead by 20 in New Hampshire


Magellan Strategies’ new survey in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney still ahead with 41 percent, Ron Paul in second at 21 percent, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman tied in third at 12 percent, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann at 4 percent each, and Rick Perry at the back with 3 percent.

The favorable/unfavorable splits for the candidates are surprising in some cases: Ron Paul is at 47/42; Newt Gingrich is at 37/58; Mitt Romney is at 69/27; Bachmann is at 29/60; Rick Santorum is at 35/46; Huntsman is at 43/39; and Rick Perry is at an abysmal 19/69.

The sample is 59 percent registered Republicans, 41 percent registered independents, of whom 91 percent say they are “extremely likely” to vote in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. The remaining 9 percent classify themselves as either “very likely” or “somewhat likely.”

New Hampshire 2012 GOP Presidential Primary Survey Topline Results 122911[1]

What this tells us is that the pressure is on to stop Romney in Iowa. As you’ve no doubt heard, no Republican has won Iowa and New Hampshire and then lost the nomination. Having said that, Romney winning both might put enormous pressure on the rest of the field to depart and unite behind one anti-Romney candidate, in an effort to beat Romney in South Carolina and Florida, two states where the former Massachusetts governor trails, at least as of mid-December. (Of course, if Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he’ll probably see a bandwagon effect in those following states pretty quickly.)

Tags: Mitt Romney , New Hampshire

Perspective on What’s at Stake in the Next Two Weeks


Number of delegates at stake in Iowa: 28

Number of delegates that winning 50 percent of the vote gets you: 14

Number of delegates that frontrunner will get if he finishes with 25 percent of the vote: 7.

Number of delegates that the second-place finisher will get if he finishes with 21.5 percent of the vote: 6.

Number of delegates at stake in New Hampshire: 12.

Number of delegates that winning 50 percent of the vote gets you: 6.

Number of delegates that winning 34 percent of the vote gets you: 4.

Number of delegates that go to the winner in Florida, under current rules: 50.

Number of delegates that go to the second-place finisher in Florida, under current rules: 0.

Number of delegates at stake on Super Tuesday, March 6: 438.

Number of delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination: 1,144.

Total number of delegates: 2,286.

Tags: Iowa , New Hampshire

Newt Gingrich Hits the Big Time: Messianic Lighting!


Newt’s campaign sends along this photo of the considerable turnout for his speech in New Hampshire last night:

Newt before a big crowd in New Hampshire.

Judging from the “halo effect”of the lighting, perhaps we’ll need a “Is Newt the Messiah” page to go with the “Is Barack Obama the Messiah” page.

Our Brian Bolduc notes that a campaign that was once nearly “an army of one” has suddenly grown a coherent organization in that state: “the ex-speaker hired his state director, Andrew Hemingway, less than two months ago. Since that time, however, the campaign has opened five offices, added 13 paid staffers, and recruited over 1,000 volunteers. By knocking on doors and making calls, the campaign has contacted 15,000 people, Hemingway tells National Review Online.”

Meanwhile, USA Today offers some encouraging news for Republicans overall and particularly good news for Newt:

Since the heady days of 2008, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll finds the number of voters who identify themselves as Democratic or Democratic-leaning in these key states has eroded, down by 4 percentage points, while the ranks of Republicans have climbed by 5 points.

Republican voters also are more attentive to the campaign, more enthusiastic about the election and more convinced that the outcome matters.

… In the swing states, Obama now trails former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among registered voters by 5 points, 43% vs. 48%, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich by 3, 45% vs. 48%.

That’s a bit worse than the president fares nationwide, where he leads Gingrich 50%-44% and edges Romney 47%-46%

The swing states that USA Today polled are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

UPDATE: Seth Mandel wonders if the “Messiah lighting” is to cancel out the New York Times’ “Doomsday Lighting.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Newt Gingrich

It’s a Whole Newt Ballgame in New Hampshire


It’s official: Thanksgiving Weekend launched Gingrich-mania to a whole new level. You might say…. a whole Newt level.

The Only Union Leader Who Will Endorse Newt Is the One in Manchester

Life as the editor of a major paper in an early primary state must be a mixed blessing. Every four years, the nation’s political junkies and diehard campaign correspondents hang on your every word for the big question of your endorsement… and then a couple days after it’s offered, they forget about you. In fact, early-state lawmakers and voters probably feel the same way.

The political world is abuzz about the Manchester Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich Sunday. As far as newspapers go, few papers punch above their weight the way the Union-Leader does. In September 2010, the Manchester Union Leader had a daily circulation of 48,342 and the circulation of its Sunday paper, the New Hampshire Sunday News, was 63,991. The Union Leader would need to sell another 32,000 or so to be the 100th most-read newspaper in America, knocking off the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California and its daily circulation is still well behind newspapers in Roanoke, Virginia; Munster, Indiana; West Palm Beach, Florida; Worcester, Massachusetts, and Wilmington, Delaware.

This is not to say that the Union Leader endorsement isn’t news; because of the Internet and coverage of the editorial, the endorsement is undoubtedly the most-read words the paper writes every four years. But it’s fascinating how the quality of the editorial board – or more specifically, its traditional influence and reputation – is much more important in measuring the power of an endorsement than the quantity of its readers.

So why Newt Gingrich and not poll leader Mitt Romney?

CNN checks in with a regular in the Corner at NRO, Drew Cline.

In an interview on CNN, Union Leader editor page editor Andrew Cline said the paper narrowed down the candidates to a choice between Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Cline said the paper picked Gingrich because he had the political experience to enact much of his platform.

Cline said the board gave “a fresh start” to its consideration of Romney, who has long been a favorite to win New Hampshire’s primary, but who has been repeatedly challenged by the Union Leader’s editorial page.

“Romney’s a guy who wants to be liked,” Cline said. “He’s a politician who wants to be liked. Gingrich is a politician who wants to be respected, who wants to actually accomplish – he has an agenda that he wants to set in place.

Don Surber says the significance of the endorsement shouldn’t be underestimated: “Bill Loeb built the largest newspaper in New Hampshire’s national reputation on focusing on that state’s first-in-the-nation-primary during a time when presidential selections went from the party bosses to the primaries. Conservatives across the nation trust the newspaper’s judgment. It’s not that the endorsement will change their minds, it is that the endorsement will reinforce their decision. Conservatives want the most conservative candidate possible who can still defeat Barack Obama. That candidate increasingly is looking like Newt Gingrich. This endorsement reinforces that notion.”

Rick Klein of ABC News concurs: “Five weeks before voting starts – no candidate better positioned as Mitt alternative than Newt. That’s why the endorsement matters: validation.”

Moe Lane: “But do note: the Union-Leader doesn’t have a notable track record in picking candidates.  Although I don’t know why I’m bothering to tell you that: given their past sledgehammer-the-fly track record when it comes to pushback on bad news, Team Romney will end up using a fifty-foot laser cannon to inscribe that fact on the surface of the moon…”

Hugh Hewitt sees a two-man race now: “Gingrich supporters are jubilant this morning, and Team Romney disappointed, but it is the rest of the field that is truly crestfallen.  The endorsement of Newt by the Manchester Union Leader after a week in which Senator Ayotte and Congressman Bass endorsed Romney makes it a Romney-Gingrich race in the Granite State, and while the ice isn’t beginning to freeze over the Des Moines and Merrimack Rivers yet, it is over the GOP race.  Which is why my Washington Examiner column tomorrow is about Newt’s immigration stance which is driving a lot of the dynamic in Iowa.”

Donald Douglas is distinctly unenthusiastic about this development: “We’re gonna have a RINO as the GOP nominee. We know all about Newt’s accomplishments. And he is the smartest candidate in the race. I’m still going to have a hard time pulling the lever if he’s the nominee next November. Yeah, anybody but Obama, I guess. But Gingrich is the quintessential establishment insider. He threw the tea party under the bus. His personal skills are this side of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. I’d prefer Mitt Romney, and again he’s not anywhere near my ideal candidate. Sarah Palin backers are pushing a “reconsider” ad in Iowa next week, so die-hards can still dream, in any case.”

On Meet the Press, the boss, a.k.a. Rich Lowry compared Newt Gingrich to the “Magruber” sketches on Saturday Night Live, parodying the old ABC television series MacGuyver. Wildly entertaining, reminding you of beloved icons of the 1980s… but you know there’s a ticking time bomb in the background and he might not be able to defuse it. He also said, when asked whether National Review will endorse anyone in the current field, “We haven’t decided yet… but watch our New York offices for the puff of white smoke.”

As many of you recall, National Review endorsed Romney in 2008. I had no role in the endorsement, but this didn’t stop anyone from complaining to me about it anyway.

Tags: New Hampshire , Newt Gingrich

War-Gaming the GOP Early Contests, Six Weeks Out


I join my NR colleagues on the cruise tomorrow, but for the week, a thought or two, war-gaming out the upcoming GOP primaries . . .

It is mid-November. Iowa Republicans vote in their caucus on January 3, roughly six weeks away.

And we’re still not sure if Mitt Romney is going to make a serious push at Iowa. (Increasingly, it appears he will; the Des Moines Register writes about evangelicals giving him a second look here.)

It’s almost unthinkable that a candidate who has a decent shot at winning the first contest wouldn’t choose to make a serious effort to win, but we live in strange times. Romney has visited only four times so far, but in the RealClearPolitics average, he trails Herman Cain by six tenths of a percentage point; Romney’s been a solid second in most polls and leads in the most recent CNN/Time survey.

At first glance, Romney has to compete. How would you describe a candidate who chose to not try to win the first contest when he’s barely behind because it wasn’t part of his campaign’s original scripted strategy? Hesitant? Too cautious? Cowardly? A half-hearted effort in Iowa, and a decision to keep the Romney campaign’s focus on New Hampshire, would be the most small-c conservative approach to campaigning in recent memory.

And yet . . . winning Iowa might set up its own problem for Romney. The recent history of presidential primaries suggests that the purpose of New Hampshire is to negate Iowa. In fact, the best way to ensure you lose New Hampshire appears to be to win Iowa:

2008: Iowa winner: Mike Huckabee. New Hampshire winner: John McCain.

2000: Iowa winner: George W. Bush. New Hampshire winner: John McCain.

1996: Iowa winner: Bob Dole. New Hampshire winner: Pat Buchanan.

1988: Iowa winner: Bob Dole. New Hampshire winner: George H.W. Bush.

1980: Iowa winner: George H. W. Bush. New Hampshire winner: Ronald Reagan.

This is a bipartisan phenomenon; look at the Democrats:

2008: Iowa winner: Barack Obama. New Hampshire winner: Hillary Clinton.

2004: Iowa winner: John Kerry. New Hampshire winner: John Kerry.

1992: Iowa winner: Tom Harkin. New Hampshire winner: Paul Tsongas.

1984: Iowa winner: Walter Mondale. New Hampshire winner: Gary Hart.

(Yes, John Kerry somehow did what no other non-incumbent, non-vice-president candidate has done since 1980.)

If Romney wins Iowa, will New Hampshire voters be determined to reject Iowa’s choice?

Obviously, as they say in those investment-fund commercials, past performance does not predict future results. And Romney’s lead in New Hampshire has been huge and consistent. But consciously or subconsciously, New Hampshire voters hate to confirm the choice of Iowa. If the Granite State rubber-stamps the choice of the Iowa caucus-goers, won’t that make Iowa even more important four years later? If Iowa is the real contest, why would candidates and campaigns shower New Hampshire voters with visits and attention and ads and spending?

Herman Cain is still doing well in New Hampshire, and this is one of Ron Paul’s stronger states. But one of the candidates who have done reasonably well here is . . . Jon Huntsman — until now, mostly an afterthought and punch-line of this campaign.

Huntsman is so thoroughly determined to demonstrate his devotion to the New Hampshire voters that he alone can say, “I boycotted candidate debates for you.” Remember, there will be no significant Democratic presidential primary, and unaffiliated voters can and do vote in party primaries. (The deadline to switch your party registration for the presidential primary was October 14.) Granite State residents can register to vote until January 3.

So suppose Romney wins Iowa, New Hampshire is determined to avoid a coronation, and so the independents and Democrats cross over and fuel Huntsman to a New Hampshire primary victory. (It feels like that kind of an unpredictable, wild-unexpected-swing cycle, no?) Then the action would move to South Carolina, where conservatives would probably be apoplectic at the thought that the top two contenders for the GOP nomination were Romney, derided as an unprincipled flip-flopper, and then Huntsman, widely perceived to be the one guy clearly to the left of Romney. They would then consolidate around one of the remaining Not-Mitt, Not-Jon options . . .

Right now, the leading Not-Mitt option is Herman Cain. But by January 21, Herman Cain may look a little weaker, depending on how he finishes in Iowa and whether the harassment claims stick to him. So currently running third in South Carolina is . . . Newt Gingrich. If Iowa’s results knock out Bachmann or Santorum, and if Perry is widely perceived to be kaput . . . wouldn’t Gingrich be in the best position to win over their supporters? And if Cain’s backers waver, wouldn’t Gingrich, the fellow Georgian, be a likely second choice for them?

Under this scenario, Republicans would go to the polls on January 31 in Florida, with a winner-take-all primary, with three winners in three primaries: Romney in Iowa, Huntsman in New Hampshire, and Gingrich in South Carolina.

Tags: Herman Cain , Iowa , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Newt Gingrich , South Carolina

Iowa, New Hampshire Democrats Increasingly Disappointed in Obama


Steffen Schmidt — not to be confused with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt — is a professor of political science at Iowa State University, and he writes in the Des Moines Register today:

I recently had drinks with respected senior Democrats in New Hampshire. They were Barack Obama supporters in 2008 and now have serious buyer’s remorse.

They were alarmed at the lack of leadership, which they feel Obama showed while he still had a substantial majority in the House and Senate. “Steffen, that health care monstrosity used up all his goodwill and has scared the crap out of voters. They just don’t understand what’s in there and he has done nothing to explain it.”

They were unanimous in blaming him for the avalanche of Republicans and the tea party movement ascendance that has paralyzed Washington. “Obama never stepped up to the plate and gave the Democrats a vision of how to retain power,” one said. “In 2010 he just walked away. He’s worse than Bill Clinton. It’s all about the Big O.”

He concludes:

From where I sit, watch, listen, check my abundant email and phone messages, I know many, many Democrats in Iowa who are deeply troubled by Obama’s policies and lack of firm leadership pushback against the Republicans. Whether they will dare to launch a caucus write-in insurgency for Hillary Clinton or some other Democrat is still uncertain. But even just talk of that should get the attention of the White House.

No serious challenge to Obama will come from the Democratic side; the only candidates who will challenge Obama within his own party will be those with nothing to lose. The money won’t be there, and the risk to a potential challenger’s future viability within the party will be substantial. The Obama crowd would be quick to aim for retribution, Chicago-politics style.

As for their buyer’s remorse . . . well, some of us spent much of 2007 and 2008 trying to warn everyone.

Tags: Barack Obama , Iowa , New Hampshire

Is the Granite State Ready for ‘New Hampshire 1’ TV?


An interesting bit of news from up in New Hampshire:

Former U.S. Senate candidate and Seacoast businessman Bill Binnie is in the late stages of purchasing Derry television station WNDS, which will serve as the flagship studio for Binnie’s statewide television network, New Hampshire 1 Network, NH Journal has learned.

Sources tell the Journal that New Hampshire 1 Network could launch as soon as April, giving Binnie plenty of time to influence New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

In fact, the Journal has learned that Binnie’s aggressive moves (he’s been inquiring about obtaining a network affiliation) have kicked incumbent television networks in the region into a scramble to shore up advertisers and prepare for serious competition this year.

Binnie is a Republican. He won a bit over 14 percent in last September’s GOP Senate primary, in a race with four big-name GOP contenders. Former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte won the primary and the seat in November.

Tags: Bill Binnie , New Hampshire

NRSC To Aid Ayotte


The NRSC recently announced it would be committing $171,000 in coordinated funds to Kelly Ayotte’s Senate campaign, the maximum allowed under New Hampshire law. The money will pay for a series of upcoming television ads.

The move puts significant pressure on the DSCC, which has yet to commit any money in support of Democrat Rep. Paul Hodes, and may want to consider the latest poll results before deciding whether to invest significantly in the race.

Ayotte’s campaign has been attracting the support of big name Republicans like John McCain, who will headline a fundraiser with Ayotte on October 2.

Tags: New Hampshire

Ayotte Up 14 in New Poll


A new survey from the American Research Group shows likely voters in New Hampshire favoring GOP Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes by a margin of 46 percent to 32 percent:

The poll indicates Ayotte holds a more than two to one advantage over Hodes among independent voters, and holds a seven point margin over Hodes in his own congressional district. Ayotte also leads by 15 points among women voters and by 13 points among male voters.

This is the 22nd consecutive poll to show Ayotte in the lead. As CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser puts it mildly: “Democrats’ hopes of capturing a Republican held Senate seat in New Hampshire appear to be fading.” The seat currently belongs to Sen Judd Gregg (R), who is retiring.


Tags: New Hampshire


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