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Friday, November 04, 2005

A Survey of New Hampshire

Posted by DavidNYC

Last year, New Hampshire provided a rare bright spot for Dems nationwide. For one, it was the only state which switched from red to blue on the presidential front. For another, Democrat John Lynch ousted the sitting governor, Republican Craig Benson - and Lynch, too, was the only Dem to oust a GOP governor that year. It marked a nice turn-around from the huge disappointment of two years earlier, when Jeanne Shaheen lost the race for an open senate seat to (shudder) John Sununu, Jr. Of course, nothing can ever soothe our wounds from 2000, when the combined Gore + Nader vote exceeded the total Bush vote... gah. But anyhow. Back to the present.

Like in neighboring Vermont, where Howard Dean seemed to have served 17 terms in a 5-year span, the New Hampshire governorship has a very short tenure - just two years. So Lynch is up for re-election next fall. The good news is that New Hampshirites love him. The University of New Hampshire's just-released new poll (PDF) gives him a whopping 71-9 job approval rating. (Bob Taft must be thinking, "Surely you mean 9-71?") Believe it or not, that's up 10 points from the last poll (in July). These findings are backed up by Survey USA, which shows Lynch at 70-21 - good enough for fourth-best in the nation and tops among Democrats. I have no doubt Lynch will be safe in 2006.

On the flipside, things aren't looking so hot for the members of the state's all-Republican Congressional delegation. I've come to the conclusion that it's pretty rare for sitting senators to have low or negative approval ratings - even Mr. Irrelevant (in this case, Li'l Ricky Santorum) manages to eke out a 45-48 rating. So I think you've gotta look at things on some sort of relative basis. With this in mind, it ain't exactly peachy for the NH GOP.

The odious cheapskate Sen. Judd Gregg (already a multi-millionaire, he just won $800K playing Powerball - can you believe it? - a day after voting against increasing the minimum wage) has a nifty +38 net approval - but that's his lowest mark in the four years UNH has been asking that question, and down 15 points from his high just over a year ago. Similarly, Sen. John Sununu is at +22, down 9 points from his recent high. Unfortunately, neither of these guys is up for re-election for a while.

But here's where it gets interesting. UNH also polled the state's two Representatives, which is nice to see because you don't get independent data on members of the House all that often. Turns out one of the few lucky bastards is incumbent Rep. Jeb Bradley (1st CD), whose favorability has increased of late. (That's not the interesting bit.) However, NH's other Congressman, Charlie Bass (2nd CD), is hurtin'. Bass stands at +24 in his home district, but that's waaay down from July of 2004 when he was at +41. A seventeen-point drop is something to get worried about.

UNH states what is no doubt obvious to all: That NH's GOPers are being hurt by Bush's poor approval - 37-61 at last count. I think the stench of endemic Republican corruption may also be playing a role here. Bradley, the less-endangered of the two Congressman, actually felt the need to give back fiifteen grand in tainted DeLay cash. Bass, who will probably face a stiff challenge, has decided to keep $7500 DeLay StinkyBucks (TM).

The Granite Prof. obliquely suggests that the reverse of the CW might be true - that Bradley caved on the StinkyBucks because he might be more at risk. I just think Bradley is smarter than Bass - and when you're in a safer seat, it's easier to give back money. Speaking of which, Bass's district went for Kerry in 2004, making him one of the few GOPers to hold a Democratic district. Superribbie puts Bass at #22 on his list of the most vulnerable House Republicans.

Now, Bass did win by a 20% margin in 2004. But if 2006 is a big Dem year - and I expect it will be - that's the kind of gap that can be overcome. Why do I say this? Because shifts like this have happened in the past in this very district. In 1992, Dick Swett, the Democrat who represented NH-02, won by a whopping 62-36 margin. One term later, in the Year of the Newt, Swett lost to a guy named - yep, you guessed it - Charlie Bass by a tally of 51-46. If the GOP can move 31 points in two years, then we can definitely move 20.

I'm not sure how the Dem side of things will shape up - it looks like 2004 challenger Paul Hodes is going to run again - but this race will definitely be one to watch.

(UNH poll via the Democratic Governors Association. Good material on the site, but time to start a blog, fellas.)

Posted at 12:10 AM in 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - State, New Hampshire | Technorati

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I've heard rumblings that Manchester mayor Bob Baines is looking at running against Bradley next year. Baines, a former high school prinicipal, would be in a terrific position to run and to raise money from national sources who are interested in his support in the presidential primary. He's up for re-election against a GOP councilman who's running on (surprise, surprise) tax cuts but I expect Baines will win handily. A couple of national candidates have already attended fundraisers for him (Biden, some one else who I can't recall) and I hope they've urged him to run.

Posted by: Keith McCrea [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 4, 2005 09:05 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

sorry. the others who are doing events for Baines are Kerry and Bayh.

Posted by: Keith McCrea [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 4, 2005 09:13 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment