Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Expect 700,000 and 48,000 Voters Tuesday

Far be it from me to disagree with Secretary of State William Gardner, the man I most admire in the state of New Hampshire (Rep. Neal Kurk has moved into second), but I'm going slightly lower rather than slightly higher for statewide turnout versus four years ago when it was 719,000.

Bill is going with 722,000.  He may well be right, but I'm going with an even 700,000 number.  In the past, population growth has, at least in part, accounted for growth every four years, but keep in mind that the state's population has not grown the past four years--in fact, we might be down slightly.

Plus, I sense a lack of absolute enthusiasm, especially on the part of Obama Democrats.

My latest report from Manchster City Hall is that, as opposed to 2008 when 4395 votes were cast by absentee ballot, 3554 have been cast so far this year.  That's as of Friday, and a few hundred most likely will come in Monday and Tuesday's mail (4271 absentee ballots were requested), but the Manchester absentee total is still likely to be 10 or 15 percent shy of four years ago when more than 49,000 votes were cast in the city.

I'm going with a 48,000 turnout in Manchester this year (hey, what can I say, I like round numbers).  That's not a big decrease, but in this atmosphere, every vote could count.  The most recent poll for New Hampshire, from Gravis, had Obama up 50-49 yesterday.

Paul Bergeron, Nashua City Clerk, is projecting a record turnout there, but numbers absentee requests seem to be down in Keene, rather significant because it leans so heavily Democratic (of course, a wave of Keene Staters could all show up and register election day, but that's not really likely).

I'm predicting Romney to carry the state by about the same margin he does the nation (51-48), and while I'm predicting the state's four electoral votes won't be vital (Romney wins 279-259), they just could if he fails to pick up Colorado.  Take away the 9 from Colorado, and indeed New Hampshire's four votes would move Romney from 266 to the magic 270!

Full details and all predictions will be updated here Monday.



Lower Than Expected Turnout Could Doom Obama In NH

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!


This American Life From NH This Weekend

This Saturday, November 3, at 2 p.m. on New Hampshire Public Radio (WEVO).
That's when the episode of This American Life dealing with New Hampshire is supposed to air.
That's the show hosted by former Concord Monitor reporter Sarah Koenig who a month ago spent a weekend interviewing various New Hampshire political figures (including me).
I promised to let you know when it was going to air, then I forgot about it and thought I had missed it (I've been out going door to door in Ward 8 Saturday afternoon the past several weeks and will be again this Saturday).
Apparently this is the week.  Sarah, always one of my favorite when she was at the Monitor, spent a lot of time on this.  She managed to get most of Speaker Bill O'Brien's Republican critics on tape and then captured the Speaker himself (so I'm told).
It'll be interesting to see how it's edited. 
Let me know what you think.

A Forced Candlelight Vigil Of Reading

Now I know what our forefathers from Washington and Jefferson on up through Webster, Clay, Calhoun, and Lincoln and beyond felt like when darkness fell.

When my power went out Monday night around 8 p.m., I dug out a few candles and started reading by candle light, much as most of the human race must have done until the advent of electricity rather recently in our history (unless they were reading by whale oil or some such thing).

I'm not complaining mind you.  When many of my neighbors in South Manchester lost power for days if not weeks in last year's Halloween storm, I was fine, so the weather gods are simply catching up with me.

I'm still struggling through Merrill D. Peterson's "The Great Triumvirate--Webster, Clay and Calhoun".  William Henry Harrison is about to beat all three of them in 1840 and become President (for a month).  That will lead us into Tyler too who was not at all what the Whigs had bargained for!

It's not an easy book what with tariffs, the bank battle, nullification, and other complex issues, but it's actually easier to read by candlelight without the distractions electricity provides.  No wonder our forefathers were for the most party much better readers than we are today!

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still hoping the lights (not to mention TV) will be back on by the time I get home today, but a few days of throwback can’t be all bad (at least not as bad as those Pittsburgh Steeler throwback uniforms we were subjected to Sunday!).


This Week's Triva--Affirm, Not Swear


The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

This week's trivia question is courtesy of Jeffrey Toobin, author of the excellent new book "The Oath:  The Obama White House and The Supreme Court."

In his prologue to his new book on the Supreme Court, Jeffrey Toobin tells the story of how Chief Justice John Roberts blew it when it came to administering the oath to Barack Obama in January, 2008, but Toobin also offers us a delicious bit of trivia.  Right at the outset (on page two), he notes, "The ecumenical nature of the presidential oath is reflected in the option of swear (or affirm).  Some Christian sects, notably the Quakers, did not believe in the use of the word swearing, so the Constitution made sure they were not excluded."

According to author Toobin, who is the only President in our history to affirm rather than swear the Presidential oath?

Let's make it multiple choice.

A)  New Hampshire's own Franklin Pierce in Washington DC in 1853;

B) Vermont’s Calvin Coolidge when he was sworn in by his father in Plymouth Notch, Vermont upon the death of Warren G. Harding in 1923;

C)  Theodore Roosevelt when he was sworn in in New York State upon the death of William McKinley in 1902;

D) Barack Hussein Obama; or

E) Martin Van Buren, the sage of Kinderhook, New York (rumored by some to be the illegitimate son of Vice President and dualist extraordinaire Aaron Burr).


Answer--Don't look far.

It's Franklin Pierce.