Friday, June 1, 2007

Live Free or Vote Democrat

Democrats are going into the 2008 Presidential primaries with an advantage they haven't had in contemporary American political history;

A leg up in the first primary state of New Hampshire.

The Granite State has historically been a GOP stronghold, and even until recently, a "pink" state, but since 2004, the New Hampshire GOP has been in complete disarray thanks to the ideological divide between New Hampshire voters and the GOP nationwide.

In 2004, John Kerry carried New Hampshire with 50.2%, making him one of only three Democrats to win a majority statewide in the last 100 years. (The other two being Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and FDR in 1940 and 1944, all three won landslides nationwide.) Kerry was also the first Democrat to win New Hampshire, but lose the election in post Civil-War American history. That same year Democrat John Lynch defeated one-term GOP incumbent Craig Benson 51%-49%, the first time a Democrat defeated a one term incumbent since 1924. New Hampshire voted for George W. Bush in 2000, after going to Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 with a plurality. Before that, Republicans won the state from 1948-1988 with the exception of Lyndon Johnson's landslide win in 1964.

Two years later, John Lynch led the Democratic Party to a statewide landslide of monumental proportions, winning nearly three out of four New Hampshire votes. Both GOP Representatives in the House of Representatives, both moderates, were defeated by staunchly anti-war Democrats Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter. The latter's victory came totally unexpected. The 110th Congress marked the first time since 1914 that New Hampshire was represented in the House of Representatives by two Democrats. The New Hampshire General Court, which had been in GOP control for over a century, flipped to the Democrats.

The muscle Democrats seem to be showing in the approaching election doesn't bode well for the state's junior Senator; John Sununu. Sununu narrowly defeated then-Governor Jeanne Shaheen in a controversial election in 2002, a Republican year. Next year, he may face Shaheen again, and if not, Democrats seem ready to throw their support behind Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand. Either way, Sununu is a top target of Democrats, and a depressed New Hampshire GOP does not help their chances of keeping the seat and flipping the narrow control of the US Senate.

With 2008 approaching, Democratic Presidential candidates are drawing bigger crowds, more donors and more enthusiasm than the GOP hopefuls.

According to the Boston Globe on May 31st, Democratic candidates have averaged $22,224 from 193 donors, while the Republican candidates averaged $20.028 from 144 donors, more than half of that being from Mitt Romney, the former Governor of neighboring Massachusetts. A recent poll showed 47% of Democrats extremely interested in the upcoming primaries, while only 25% of Republicans are very interested. CNN reported on June 1, 2007 that 2/3 of New Hampshire Independents, who make up a plurality of registered voters, plan to vote in the Democratic primary.

What's destroying the GOP in New Hampshire? Well, the war is obviously unpopular nationwide, especially in New Hampshire, but it is New Hampshire's political history of being the "Live Free or Die" state that has hurt the GOP. For years, the GOP has been able to win over New Hampshire by opposing issues associated with the Democratic Party; the welfare state, big government, taxes, spending, gun control, etc. Now, the Republican Party is supporting issues New Hampshire Libertarians oppose; parts of the PATRIOT Act, Warantless wiretapping, the religious right. Government intrusion on people's lives is not a popular thing in New Hampshire, never was. Remember, this is the state that vehemently opposes mandatory seat belt laws. Previous to this administration, it had been the Democrats who had been branded as the party who intruded into privacy, but today, the Republicans appear to be that party and it has hurt them in the land of Live Free or Die.

New Hampshire and the first caucus state of Iowa are key swing states in the general election. Democratic strength in the New Hampshire primary gives a good indication as to who would be the favorite in the general. Democratic strength indicates the possibility that Democrats will again win New Hampshire in the general and steal all of New England again. As if it wasn't bad enough the Republicans have pretty much lost the rest of New England, losing New Hampshire would essentially turn the Northeast US into a region that will balance out the Republican south...assuming the south stays Republican.

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