Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why did Obama win New Hampshire?

New Hampshire went to Obama by ten points in 2008, and Congressional seats also went Democrat that year.  Two years later, Republicans swept, both locally and nationally.  New Hampshire has more voters registered as Independent than either Democrat or Republican.  How can Obama win in what is an independent, fiscally conservative state with Libertarian inclinations?
  1. Give President Obama and his campaign credit, they know how to run a campaign.  Remember, before beating Senator McCain in 2008 he beat then-Senator Clinton.  A seasoned politician and campaigner, who was favored by many to win the whole race.  President Obama knows how to inspire volunteers, and his campaign knows how to use those volunteers to get out the vote. This is particularly evident in NH with the youth vote.  Turn out was high and new voter registration was high.  Two campaigns in a row he’s turned out young voters who previously never voted in these sort of numbers.  While this could also be said nationally for minority voters, quite frankly NH isn’t that diverse, so the numbers appear to have come largely young voters, and urban voters.
  1. Republicans need to rethink the way they talk to sub-groups.  This, however, isn’t just a NH thing.  In what I believe to be the stupidest moment of the campaign, Rush Limbaugh went off on a woman who spoke publicly to members of Congress about birth control.  The merits of the argument aside, what played repeatedly in the media were Limbaugh’s comments (to paraphrase) calling this woman a slut for using too much birth control.  It was rude and dim-witted, and could not have helped with the women’s vote.  This combined with a couple of remarks by potential Republican senators about rape, gave the Republican party a problem with women.  Pro-life politicians could learn something from Senator McCain.  State your position as human rights issue, and leave moral judgments out of it.  Seems likely that pro-choice can accept a difference of opinion much easier that they can accept being talked down to.
Similarly, politicians need to understand that if they appear to be talking down to gays, women, or a particular ethnic group.  You’re not only alienating those people, you’re alienating the people who love them, their friends and family.  There’s no reason someone who is gay couldn’t be fiscally conservative.  However, the likelihood of someone who is gay voting Republican at this time almost zero.  If Republicans truly think traditional marriage should be part of their platform, they need to figure a way of addressing that issue that doesn’t make them appear like mean-spirited bullies.
New Hampshire is unique.  I don’t think there is another state in the union that has legalized gay marriage, and has no state income tax.  Both parties can win this state, but right now Democrats have the edge.  To sum NH up politically, I’d still say that the trick is ‘play nice and butt out.’  The electorate isn’t tied to a party so either side has the potential to win the ‘Live Free or Die’ state.