Monday, November 28, 2011

Newt's big endorsement: How big is it?

Good morning, and welcome to O-pinion, the Observer's spot for perspective and discussion. I'm Peter St. Onge, associate editor of the O's editorial board, and I'll be hosting today.

I'm also a New Hampshire native, so I have a different perspective than many about the political news of note this weekend. Newt Gingrich nabbed the endorsement Sunday of New Hampshire's biggest and most politically influential newspaper, the Manchester Union-Leader.

This is big for Gingrich, as you'll hear today, for all the obvious reasons: The endorsement affirms Gingrich as the party's conservative choice heading into the primaries. It's one of few endorsements he's received thus far from establishment sources, and it comes in a critical early primary state in which Romney has comfortably led most polls.

That primary is January 10, and given New Hampshire's reputation for embracing surprising candidates, we could be looking at the kind of upset that gives Gingrich significant momentum heading into conservative South Carolina soon after.

Except for this: New Hampshire's reputation is undeserved. The notion that N.H. is a maverick state that follows the lead of its maverick conservative newspaper is largely based on one primary. In 1996, the state gave its primary nod to conservative candidate Pat Buchanan, endorsed by the Union-Leader instead of eventual nominee Bob Dole.

In other years, despite prodding from the Union-Leader, N.H. has been stubbornly mainstream. We voted for Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George W. Bush. We've voted for decidedly moderate candidates like George H.W. Bush and John McCain, the 2000 version. In short, we vote for frontrunners.

This year, that frontrunner also happens to be a moderate who was governor of a neighboring state, Massachusetts. The border is critical, because most of New Hampshire's population lives in the southern half of the state - less than an hour from Boston. Much of that population emigrated from Massachusetts, and most get their news from Boston TV, radio and media. They are unafraid to vote for moderates, and they remember Romney's successful stint as governor.

All of which wasn't enough to help Romney beat McCain in New Hampshire's 2008 primary, in which Romney finished a strong second. The Union-Leader endorsed McCain in that race, as well, but that synergy between N.H. residents and the state's biggest newspaper was the exception, not the rule. Romney is still the man to beat in the state that once called him neighbor.

Closer to home

The Observer's editorial lauds a new venture that puts Charlotte in a new role: home to food innovation.

In our letters to the editor, writers ask if we need tragedy to change hunting rules - and we get a solution to our unsophisticated clapping at the symphony.


kantstanzya said...

Peter is correct in this assessment. Lately the Union Leader has been more conservative than the state's registered voters. Unfortunately this is not because the native N.H. voter has is because, as he points out, they have been overwhelmed by liberal Mass.people who have moved over the border.

Ironically, as often happens, the very transplants who are escaping the effects of liberalism (like high taxes) are bringing the same mindset that created the conditions that caused them to leave in the first place to their new homes.

Laser Guided Loogie said...

Yes, Newt get's an endorsement. So what?

Ron Paul is still out there, and he''s starting to actually lead in many of the polls.

If he becomes President, how will the government suckups in the press still manage to not talk about him?

Skippy said...

And the rats continue to jump ship:

(CNN) - Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, a 16-term Democrat, will announce Monday he does not intend to seek re-election in 2012, according to a statement from Frank's office.

Corrupt as the say is long and saw the writing on the wall for the Dems in 2012.

Garth Vader said...

Garth Vader said...

Since 1972 the Union-Leader has only twice endorsed the eventual GOP nominee – Ronald Reagan in 1980 and John McCain in 2008. On the other occasions, its nod went to John Ashbrook in 1972, Reagan in 1976, Pete Dupont in 1988, Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996 and Steve Forbes in 2000.

Oh, and in 1992 the U-L described Newt as a "prostitute".