Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of Palin?

Tuesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, Craig Crawford identified New Hampshire as the Kerry state that John McCain has the best shot of winning in 2008. While I would agree with that assessment, the news is certainly mixed, particularly in light of two new conflicting polls out yesterday. Rasmussen Reports (700 LVs, Sept. 23, MOE +/- 4%) shows McCain up by 2, a swing in his direction of 3 points since August, and a new Marist Poll (604 LVs, Sept. 17-21, MOE +/- 3.5%) shows Obama up 6.

Rasmussen 9/23 (8/18)Marist 9/17-21PollsterRCP
McCain49 (46)4547.646.5
Obama47 (47)5146.448.5

Interestingly, these results mirror the discrepancy between the most recent WMUR poll, which had McCain up 2, and the most recent CNN/Time poll, which had Obama up 6. In fact the reason RCP's polling average has Obama up 2 is that these 4 polls were the only ones they counted. On the other hand, Pollster included an additional three polls in which McCain led: two Zogby Interactive polls and one from ARG, all of which are generally considered suspect.

Which is a long way of saying New Hampshire is currently a big ole toss-up, which is problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all is that most roads to an Obama victory presume his winning all states that Kerry won; if Obama can't win New Hampshire, he'd have to make up those 4 EVs somewhere else, which would again mean having to rely on Florida or Ohio to put him over the top. Also, as it is right now, New Hampshire holds the key between an Obama victory and an electoral tie. Subtract NH's 4 EVs from Obama's 273 in the MyDD electoral vote tracker and you get, that's right, a 269-269 tie. Greeeat.

One reason I think some concern actually may be in order when it comes to New Hampshire, at least until we see other polls that reflect Marist's results as opposed to Rasmussen's, is the fact that McCain has actually gained ground in the Ras poll since August, even though it was in the field on Tuesday, in the midst of all the economic turmoil that has generally benefited Obama. So what could account for McCain's gains? It looks from the internals that the Palin effect is still very much in play in New Hampshire.

Take this result:

John McCain named Sarah Palin to be his Vice Presidential running mate. Was this the right choice for McCain to make?

Yes 51%
No 39%
Not Sure 10%

That's 10% more enthusiasm for McCain's pick of Palin than there is for Obama's pick of Biden. Along the same lines, Palin has the highest "Very favorable" rating of anyone on either ticket with 41% (McCain is close behind with 39%.) In other words, in its enthusiasm for Palin, New Hampshire is acting much more like an Alaska or North Dakota than a Massachusetts or Maine, which makes some sense, since there would be some demographic overlap.

Now, it's difficult to discount the power of New Hampshire's fond history with McCain over the years, but I'd argue that that gets him a tie at best, more likely a slight loss. Just look at all the polls that were conducted over the summer (after Obama won the nomination and before he accepted it) Barack was ahead in 8 out of 9 polls; post-Palin, he's ahead in just 2 out of 6.

The question is whether the Palin shine will wear off in New Hampshire as it has nationally or whether she can continue to prop John McCain up in the state.

Tags: Barack Obama, John McCain, New Hampshire (all tags)



Shaheen fell behind Sununu as well

The biggest difference between previous polls with Shaheen and Sununu is Shaheen's support among women; she's tied with Sununu now.  I'm not sure if you want to attribute that change to Palin, as she hasn't visited NH, but the probability of Obama winning New Hampshire depends on the margin by which he wins women and the extent to which he can turnout women.  There'll be a gender gap and a battle of the sexes in NH.

by Blazers Edge 2008-09-25 02:41AM | 0 recs
Another Poll o;jsessionid=8290D544575BB1EC7EB5C4987B3 4B40E?diaryId=5251

Wed Sep 24, 2008

It positively rained New Hampshire polls today - I'm only just now catching up to them.

Let's start with the presidentials. Marist College has Obama leading, and with a good sample size of registered voters, and more so with leaners factored in:

   Registered Voters:
    Obama 48%
    McCain 45%

   Likely Voters (w/ Leaners):
    Obama 51%
    McCain 45%

   Sample: 765 reg. voters. Conducted 9/17-9/21, MoE +/-3.5%

And check out the enthusiasm gap:

   70% of Obama's backers are excited about the candidates running for president while 49% of McCain's report they are enthused.

by dearreader 2008-09-25 04:22AM | 0 recs
their maverick BS plays best in NH

New Hampshire is the one Kerry State that is expendable.  Obama wins if it's 269-269.  That would be payback for 2000.  A win is a win is a win no matter how it happens.

Craig Crawford is an annoying twit.

Does anyone know how strong our ground game is in NH?

by mboehm 2008-09-25 03:00AM | 0 recs
Re: their maverick BS plays best in NH

Yah, not sure what got up Craig's backside, but he has been an annoying whiner about Obama since early in the campaign...

He reminds of certain MyDD posters, he's sort of MSNBC's concern troll....

by WashStateBlue 2008-09-25 04:51AM | 0 recs
Maybe its a Biden thing?

Do folks in NH not think that highly of Biden next door in DE?  

by Public Servant 2008-09-25 03:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe its a Biden thing?

Deleware is not in New England

by Rob in Vermont 2008-09-25 03:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe its a Biden thing?

"Next door" meant east coast area. Any thoughts on my Q, or was geography your main concern?

by Public Servant 2008-09-25 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe its a Biden thing?

Sorry, geography is not my strong suit so I assumed maybe it wasn't yours either. I wouldn't think NH'ites would view Biden especially differently than other reddish staters would, but I don't know.

by Rob in Vermont 2008-09-25 04:16AM | 0 recs
Next door? Maybe down the hall a ways.

Speaking as a New Hampshirite, Delaware is like the other side of the planet and no one here would think of it as having anything in common with us. That said, I don't think there's an anti-Biden tilt, though I've recently heard some Republicans say they'd never vote for him. In fact, I think Biden's shoot-from-the-hip style plays well here.

by Travis Stark 2008-09-25 04:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Next door? Maybe down the hall a ways.

Thanks. I'm in Ohio, and have relatives in NH, but they're big of no help.

by Public Servant 2008-09-25 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Next door? Maybe down the hall a ways.

NH is a bastion of right wingnuts in the midst of the liberal northeast. We've only recently moved from the red to purple hues. There are more "undeclared" voters here than either Republicans or Democrats. In a state whose motto is "Live Free or Die," we tend to love that "maverick" thing. We're fighting McCain, or at least his image, being sort of a natural fit to the self-image of the state.

I'm hopeful Obama can take New Hampshire, but they'd better spend some money here.

by Travis Stark 2008-09-25 05:11AM | 0 recs
Obama by two in North Carolina

in Rasmussen.  So, according to Scottie, Obama trails in Virginia but leads in North Carolina; who knows, this election just may be crazy enough for Obama to win NC instead of VA.

by Blazers Edge 2008-09-25 03:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama by two in North Carolina

It's entirely possible.  I never bought the "NC is a waste of time because if Obama wins North Carolina then that would mean he would also have won Virginia and won't need North Carolina"... school of thought.  They're very different states.

by Jess81 2008-09-25 04:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama by two in North Carolina

I agree.  I live in NC and have considered this to be a nearly 50/50 state all year.  I've never bought the argument that you don't compete in a state because if you win there you've already one somewhere else so it doesn't matter.  No one knows if that's true - maybe Northern VA likes long-time Senators better than newcomers.

NC is a very winnable state for Obama (I'll be going to the Obama/Biden rally here in Greensboro Saturday), plus a strong Obama effort here also helps Kay Hagan against Liddy Dole, which is a very good thing.

by LanceS 2008-09-25 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama by two in North Carolina

Thanks for being a believer.  I'll admit that I've thought all along NC was a "waste of time" in the sense that Obama couldn't possibly win there.  Who knows?  We may all be eating crow on November 5.

It would truly be whacky if Obama managed to win NC and lose OH and NH.  Ultimately I think that would be very good for him and for Democrats in general.  It would not be good to win the Presidency without winning a single Southern state.

by the mollusk 2008-09-25 07:20AM | 0 recs
Campaign suspended? As of when?

I saw a McCain/Palin ad (by the campaign itself, not RNC) on TV last night in prime time on a local channel. The only reason for ads playing on this channel would be to reach New Hampshire; Vermont is obviously not in play.

by Rob in Vermont 2008-09-25 03:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

" Subtract NH's 4 EVs from Obama's 273 in the MyDD electoral vote tracker and you get, that's right, a 269-269 tie."

Subtract 4 from's 301.8 and even rounding down Obama still has 297.

Subtract 4 from's  286 and that's still 282.

Be interesting to see whose model turns up right.

by jlmccreery 2008-09-25 03:50AM | 0 recs

Subtract 4 from's  286 and that's still 282.

But if you were to subtract another 13 (since shows VA's 13 EV's very iffy, Obama is up by only 1 point in VA by their calculation) then you get 269.

by Rob in Vermont 2008-09-25 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

OK I'm in  southern central NH, the Monadnock region. Right now in the always reliable lawn sign poll I'd say it's a toss up. I've seen a lot of signs Veterans for McCain, which really irks me since McCain has been so poor on veterans issues as of late.

The ground game, hmm I stopped by the Democratic office here in my town a couple of weeks ago to find two people lounging around, no Obama sign out front and no Obama stickers or lawn signs available.

by jsfox 2008-09-25 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

Is that "Hillary Sent Me" thing in evidence, or did that never take off like it was supposed to?

by Bush Bites 2008-09-25 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

If it has I haven't seen in my town. However, I am not going to say what's going on in the rest of the state. I would say if there is an effort it is in the larger metro areas Manchester and Nashua.

I work out of my house so I don't get out and about much :)

by jsfox 2008-09-25 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

There is a big effort by Work for Progress/Progressive Future in Nashua, Concord, and Portsmouth areas. If you life in NH, they are looking for both volunteers and paid workers. They have a web site.

by Coral 2008-09-25 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire

Let's put it this way: if Obama locks up Kerry states except for NH, plus IA, NM, and CO, then he has 269 electoral votes.  If he then is trailing only slightly in a number of states (VA, NH, OH, FL, NC, IN), then the probabilities are actually better than 50% that he wins one of those states.

by rfahey22 2008-09-25 04:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play

New Hampshire has always been in play. Palin is being used as an excuse for some of those who don't want to vote for Obama to be sure. McCain has always been very popular here. It's his stronghold of support in the northeast.  I think the Obama campaign is mistakenly scrimping on distributing lawn signs here so visibility sucks. Its going to be a squeaker in New Hampshire. Lets hope Obama has a better ground game here than he did in the primary.

by Travis Stark 2008-09-25 05:02AM | 0 recs
Winning 1 Nebraska EV?

Just throwing this out for discussion:

Past polls have shown Obama having a chance at carrying one of Nebraska's electoral votes. Which is more likely at this point, NH going to McCain or Obama carrying one of NE's EVs?

by Noonan 2008-09-25 05:04AM | 0 recs
Remember the primaries.

I wouldn't give you 2 cents for any poll of New Hampshire voters.

by Bush Bites 2008-09-25 05:07AM | 0 recs
The ground game

Orders to us in Massachusetts are "Go North". Even the Kerry campaign is sending people "up country" to help. Looks like ski season with all the Mass traffic heading up I-93.

The state did a major flip to the blue in '06 (gov, both US reps, entire legislature) for the best the Dems have done since 1912. It was close for Kerry, will be for Obama. This has always been the iffy Kerry state.

They know McCain, and supported him now and before. Finicky, mavericky state. "Live Free or Die". Sorta like Obama's Appalachian problem: rural, libertarian, white voters. Same seems to be emerging in parts of Maine (which also has a strong Perot independent streak). Get the government off my back and out of my wallet.

I am surprised and concerned about Shaheen. Sunununununu's and the Republicans have started a nasty air campaign. If you can, give Jeanne some green. She could use it.

by meddembob 2008-09-25 05:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The ground game

If Palin's primary appeal is to social conservatives, it's hard to see how she could help much in New England.

by KTinOhio 2008-09-25 05:22AM | 0 recs
It's all those female moose hunters

who are supporting Palin.

If Paul Hodes is in a squeaker, then I can understand why it would be tough for Obama.  My hunch is that he will pull it out in NH.  I don't live in NH, but I have spent a lot of time there over the last 25 yrs. and the change has been remarkable.

by MDMan 2008-09-25 05:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

The chances aren't that great that NH's going red would swing the election to McCain.  Obama gets to 260 w/ Iowa and New Mexico.  The only way he'll lose either is if he's doing poorly across the board.  

NH wouldn't be enough to get him across the finish line.  VA, CO, OH, FL, NC, IN, and NV + NH would push him over the top, but NH only shows up in one of these combinations (I'm assuming Obama wins if there is a tie).

The bad news is that all of these states went red during the last two elections.  The good news is that most are trending blue, and there is a different segment of the electorate in each which could push Obama over the top.

If Obama loses a significant number of whites in places like NH, that might have no effect on voters in CO or NC (my bet, btw, is that he'll win approx. half of these states and reach 300).

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-09-25 05:43AM | 0 recs
I don't think Palin is necessarily the reason

i am from New England, and have spent some time in NH over the years, and I get the sense that it was trending to the Democrats anyway. A lot of people moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire for cheaper housing and lower taxes. so one could argue they are more conservative than the average Bay Stater, but the price on a house doesn't care about your political leanings, so it's likely just as many real liberal types were driven north for the same reason.

Also, the urban populations of Manchester and Nashua have grown considerably relative to the rest of the state. That bodes well for Obama.

Yet another factor: the GOP lost big at the local and state level in 2006, I don't see a huge reversal of tat this time around.

As to whether New Hampshire is expendable, I'd say that it's not likely to be a tipping point state (per's terminology). If Obama carries the same states Gore did (minus Florida) he gets to 260, and that looks pretty likely. He then needs only one of several competitive states, all of which have more than 10 EVs -- Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, or Ohio would do it.

if Obama carries Kerry states + Iowa (in the bag, likely) and New Mexico (also looking very good) he gets to 264, and still only needs one more. Colorado is looking good right now, and that would obviate the need for New Hampshire to get to a tie.

There is a good possibility he peels off an electoral vote from Nebraska. That would also make New Hampshire less necessary.

Another interesting possibility is West Virginia. W. Va. went big for Clinton twice, and if the Clintons went there and did a little legwork I think the state would go for Obama -- it is almost within reach now. That's 5 EVs that would make NH less because in any combination where Obama carries the Gore states + WV he gets a tie. Carrying both Virginias even makes Michigan unnecessary, if you can believe that -- it would even be a net gain of 1 EV. (Assuming he carries Kerry States + IA + NM + CO, it would be a 274-264 win for Obama). Add in a Nebraska EV and you get 275-263.

But I think New Hampshire is likely to go blue this time around.

All that said, no state is really expendable -- had Gore carried the state Florida would not have mattered.

by camaxtli 2008-09-25 06:13AM | 0 recs

Another possibility is a Maine CD going to McCain, even though the SUSA poll had no difference between the two districts.

That would hand the election to McCain, 270-268.  I think there is a Palin effect in some Northern states with hunters and gun owners.  And, keep in mind New Hampshire is still an anti-tax state.

The energy issue (esp. home heating oil prices) may helping McCain in New Hampshire as well.

by esconded 2008-09-25 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain

NH isn't THAT important.

Sure NH is one of the states that is actually swinging right now.  But so is VA, NV and to a lesser extent OH, and FL.

Since Obama's lead is growing in CO, IA, and NM, and holding down PA, MI, WI and MN, why get all worked up about where that next electoral vote will come from.

The fact is McCain has to run the table on VA, NV, OH, FL and NH to get a tie.  That itself is very unlikely given the current situation.  If Obama really leads by +3 or +4 in the popular vote, it will take an electoral college miracle for McCain to pull it off.

Also, I'm very skeptical Palin is playing well anywhere by now, apart from among Evangelicals.  The longer she is in the spotlight, the worse it seems to get.  When you've lost George Will and David Brooks on basic qualification for the office, I don't see how you are winning over New Hampshire independents and libertarians.

by NMMatt 2008-09-25 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of

My sense is that McCain's "Maverick" appeal is strong in New Hampshire.  Unfortunately for him, it is a relatively high-information voting state and the more he shores up his base (i.e. Palin) the more he moves away from being a broadly appealing figure in NH.  I'll be surprised if McCain carries NH this fall without something seismic happening in the rest of the race.

by PghArch 2008-09-25 11:24AM | 0 recs
LTEs running against Palin
Lots of LTEs here in our papers (I don't read the Union Misleader so not sure about that) against the pick of Palin.  But a lot of people still think McCain is the Maverick here, a lot voted for him in 2000 and people don't like to think they were wrong, I sometimes believe that is why Bush lasted as long as he did.
NH demographics are odd, the recent transplants from MA are not Democrats, they are Republicans who were told NH has no taxes, only to find out that we fund everything with property taxes and those houses they bought at the height of the boom cost them a lot here.  
We just got a few Obama-Biden signs this week!  The campaign has been awful about signs, you couldn't even get plain Obama signs.  They think they can do it with phone calls.  We are very rural in many places and campaign signs in small towns carry a lot of weight in yards, since everyone knows everyone.
We will keep working on this, and pray that NH is not as racist as I sometimes worry it is.
by bloomingpol 2008-09-25 02:05PM | 0 recs


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