In the days before the New Hampshire primary, the polling consultant for Mitt Romney's campaign, Neil Newhouse, conducted a series of three focus groups with independent New Hampshire voters.Obama has to win every state he won last time to have a chance. Every one. Some of the states he won lost electoral votes following the census, and the loss of even a small state like New Hampshire could spell the difference between four more years of Obama and some hope and change.
The immediate aim was to understand Romney's appeal -- or lack of it -- among the crucial one-third of voters here: the ones who register "undeclared" and tend to be the last to decide, and therefore the most influential.
The intel was useful in the primary, but could also be of benefit if, as now seems at least likely, Romney is the GOP nominee.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney's vulnerability in the New Hampshire GOP primary -- his reputation as a "Massachusetts moderate" -- could become his strength if he is the standard-bearer, and could be critical in an effort to woo independent voters.
"He would give us a good shot here," said his New Hampshire campaign chairman, Tom Rath, a 30-year mainstay of Republican establishment politics in the state. "Voters here know his reputation from Massachusetts and he's practically a local. That's going to make it harder for the Democrats to attack him here."
Before the media caravan moves on, it is worth noting that New Hampshire and its four electoral votes will remain on the national radar screen. Especially if Romney wins the Republican nomination, this small but crucial swing state will be in play in the general election.
Even though President Barack Obama did not win the New Hampshire primary in 2008 -- a senator named Hillary Clinton did -- Obama, riding a wave of discontent about the economy and the Iraq war, won the Granite State by a nearly 10 percent margin against the GOP nominee and one-time New Hampshire favorite, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
It is not clear that Obama could repeat that performance, or even get close.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
In 2008 Obama handily won the four electoral votes in New Hampshire, but Mitt Romney's decisive win in the GOP primary could mean he'll be tough to beat if he's the nominee: