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.