One of the more underreported stories in today’s New Hampshire primary is the role that Independents will play in deciding the winner. Independents are allowed to vote in this primary and 40% of New Hampshire voters are registered as Independent. And if you listen to the reports of informal canvassing of the man on the street one word keeps being repeated over and over again…undecided.
New Hampshire has a history of being very different from the rest of the electorate. They take the right to vote very, very seriously. They educate themselves about the candidates and the issues. Name recognition doesn’t matter in New Hampshire; the candidate’s history, experience and position on the issues are what matters to New Hampshire voters.
Another thing about New Hampshire voters is that they are very unpredictable. All you have to do is look back to the last Presidential election. When New Hampshire primary voters went to the voting booths in 2008 Barak Obama held an 11-15 point lead in every poll. When the votes were counted Hillary Clinton had pulled off a major upset that legitimized her candidacy and catapulted her into a long fierce battle with Obama.
Romney is the current frontrunner and is expected to win his virtual home state. But Romney was polling at 41% less than a week ago and is now at 33%. The battle for second is anybody’s call. Huntsman is gaining momentum with most of his surge coming from those pesky Independents. He appears poised to make a run at Romney in South Carolina. But then again this is New Hampshire so who knows.
The voting in New Hampshire has already begun.
Dixville Notch is a little town in northern New Hampshire just 20 miles from the Canadian border. The town is famously known for being one of the first places to declare its results during presidential elections and the New Hampshire primary. In a tradition that started in 1960 the town’s 9 residents (yes, 9) gather at the voting place to cast their ballots…and announce the results one minute later. Since 1968 the town of Dixville Notch has correctly predicted the winner of the Republican nomination. Not this year. The votes have been cast and for the first time in history there is a tie. Mitt Romney and Jon huntsman each received 2 votes with Paul and Gingrich each getting 1. The nine voters registered as 4 Independents, 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
Forget the polls…this race for the Republican nomination is wide open.
If you don’t believe us just ask the folks from Dixville Notch.