Until now, all we had were polls, and frankly they are all over the map when it comes to the Presidential race in New Hampshire. Thanks to the UNH outlier poll which showed Obama up by nine points last week, the Real Clear Politics average had the President up slightly here. However, Democratic pollster Doug Schoen (Bill Clinton's pollster) last night indicated that New Hampshire is leaning for Romney.
There's non-polling data which tends to verify that.
Last week, I ran into Manchester City Clerk Matt Normand in front of City Hall. Noting that more than 49,000 votes were cast in the city in 2008, I said, "So I guess we'll hit 50,000 this year."
No, Matt told me. To my surprise, he said he expects turnout will be less than four years ago, and this is not just a wild hunch. City and town clerks (not to mention Secretary of State Bill Gardner) are usually fairly accurate in predicting turnout based on absentee ballot requests.
The are considerably down in Manchester, and Matt tells me that newly registered voters were off as well (the deadline for registering was last Saturday to allow city and town clerks time to prepare their check lists; of course, same day registration is still allowed).
Four years ago, Matt recalls lines out the door at city hall in Manchester. Not so this year.
I was going to break this news last week, but I've been busy going door to door in Ward 8 (a big shout out to all those down at Crystal Lake, what a great afternoon I had down there!). Then along came Sandy, but since I've basically completed visiting every house in the ward now, I decided to spend some time blogging today.
I went to City Hall in Manchester, and as expected, numbers are down. Democratic hacks like Bob Beckel are on Fox trying to discount Mitt Romney's 52-45 lead in absentee votes after he enjoyed a 15 point lead four years ago.
Such hacks will try to minimize this data as well. Oh, they'll say, there are still five days to vote absentee, but that would be misleading. Historically, the vast majority of those who wish to vote absentee have already requested ballots by this time.
Here are the numbers. In Manchester in 2008, 4694 people requested absentee ballot; 4395 ballots were actually returned, about nine percent of the total votes cast in the city. It's normal to have six or seven percent of your absentee ballots never returned.
Fast forward to this year.
Matt Normand told me last week that he would be surprised to see 4000 absentee ballots cast in the city, about ten percent less than four years ago.
As of noon today, 4096 absentee ballots had been requested and 3006 returned.
People still can actually go to city hall and vote there (with valid reason) by absentee up until Monday, but that doesn't happen much.
In fact, we could welll see a ten percent decline in absentee ballots in a city Barack Obama won by 5000 or so votes four years ago. A ten percent decline in absentee votes does not necessarily translate into a ten perecent decline in votes cast on election day, but it's a very strong indication that turnout will be down.
Of course, these could be Republican voters not showing up, but my guess is that New Hampshire and Manchester will follow national trends, that Republicans are motivated and Democrats are less motivated than they were four years ago.
So, Bob Beckel and Kathy Sullivan (she was on CSpan today spinning away) can engate in all the self-deception they wish, but real numbers six days prior to the election would indicate Obama is in trouble in New Hampshire.
I've tried to get statewide data from Secretary of State Gardner, but have so far come up short. His deputy David Scanlan told me he expects turnout to be down statewide, but Bill is still refining his numbers.
I've always gone by the assumption that in the overall scheme of things, Manchester (which accounts for about seven percent of votes cast in the state) is pretty much in line with other communities.
If this is true, Obama and Democrats could be doomed in our four electoral vote state!