July 1, 2012

WHICH IS WHY KELLY AYOTTE IS IN THE VEEPSTAKES:

The Battle for New Hampshire (David Shribman - July 1, 2012, RCP)

A generation ago, no one would have thought that New Hampshire, with its sturdy Republican tradition, could possibly be a presidential battleground once the candidates, like characters in "Brigadoon," a summer-stock favorite here for nearly a half century, packed up their dial telephones, index cards and metal buttons and moved on to the next stage. Between Franklin Roosevelt's last campaign in 1944 and Bill Clinton's first in 1992, New Hampshire voted Republican every time but in the 1964 Lyndon Johnson landslide. Even then this county went for Barry Goldwater, the only one in New England to do so.

But since then this state, once resolutely red, has turned purple, which by a sort of perverse poetic justice is the very color of the sky in Cole's Chocorua oil landscape. Clinton won the state in 1992 by a hair, and then Gov. George W. Bush seized it by just as slim a margin -- but would have lost both the state, and the 2000 election, had not Ralph Nader taken about 22,000 votes, almost all of them from Vice President Al Gore.

John Harrigan, a veteran North Country newspaperman, has described New Hampshire as "a jumbled geography of mountains, valleys and ridges, more than 90 percent woods and water, peopled by relatively few individuals, mostly unposted and open to all." It is the openness that defines the place, even though its people are famously closed -- to outside fashions and frippery.

Now it is open to changing colors, from red to blue and then back again twice, and the irony is that this year's election is between two men who were defeated in primary fights here in 2008 and left for dead, only to recover, Obama later that year and Romney in four years' time.

The velocity of the change in staid old New Hampshire has been stunning, which is why Romney's forces believe they will prevail here -- a notion that has prompted Obama to intensify his organizational efforts.

Two years ago, Democrats controlled the state House (224-176) and the state Senate (14-10), only to become the victims of a stunning GOP surge that gave the Republicans overpowering margins in both, 293-104 in the House and 19-5 in the Senate. Meanwhile, the Republicans took back two congressional seats, elected a senator to an open seat and overturned a 3-2 disadvantage on the Executive Council, an institution with colonial antecedents and functions so peculiar and inscrutable that no other state has copied it, and now have a 5-0 margin there.

Travelling downstate nowadays is like going to Massachusetts.  Thus the county border rule.
Posted by at July 1, 2012 9:07 AM
  

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