Lest I sound sacrilegious, that phrase would best describe the New Hampshire primary. The cake was baked six months ago, and no matter how high the media tried to gin up interest and make this a close race, a baked cake is seldom rebaked.
Surprises were few and only minimal at that.
For example, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well Ron Paul did, three or four percent higher than most polls had indicated. He actually won upwards of 60 towns and numerous city wards, but most of the towns he won were small (Coos County and the Pemi Baker Valley for example) with many fewer votes than the big Rockingham and Hillsborough towns which went big for Romney.
That was hardly a surprise based on Romney’s strength four years ago.
I was also slightly surprised that Huntsman did quite so well, but if you look at the places he did best in, there is no surprise, more upscale communities (Hanover, New London, Manchester Ward 1), places which typify what I like to call the yuppification of the Republican Party.
I was also pleasantly surprised that the two Republicans candidates I could never vote for (Santorum and The Eft) completely struck out, each failing to reach double digits and battling each other for last place (among the contenders) to the extent that the Eft actually overtook Rick The F once the final totals were in from the Secretary of State.
Union Leader publisher Joseph W. McQuaid, a truth denier and a humanoid whom I disdain perhaps even more than the Eft and Rick the F, came out of this affair not just with egg on his face but with an entire omelet bespoiling his kisser. Long after the Eft was totally discredited—made to look like a fool by talk host Howie Carr—McQuaid clung to his misguided support of the biggest loser in the state. Twas fitting—biggest loser sticks by biggest loser. Howie Carr even marveled at how McQuaid had made such a fool or himself and the paper William Loeb bequeathed him. It was so amusing that, although I had reached the Radisson on my trip down from Concord (I had agreed to be on Russian and Orlando radio again), I kept the car radio on to hear attack McQuaid and the Eft!
All went beyond my fondest expectations. I was happier than I’ve been in a single since that epic June day in 1999 when I finally evicted a parasite from my home.
With so few surprises, we should hold pollsters and pundits to unusually high standards this year. To do that, I’ve put a chart together. Let’s look at the final results compared to final projections from four pollsters and four pundits who went on the record (New York Times numbers cruncher Nate Silver, the Nashua Telegraph’s Kevin Landrigan, Steve Lombardo of the Huffington Post, and your humble blogger).
Nate Silver appears to be the biggest winner and I highly recommend a daily dose on his numbers crunching a fivethirtyeight.com. It would only be accurate for me to say that I probably did second best. I got the order of finish for the top five right and while I had Dr. Paul and Huntsman with a bit too little and Santorum and the Eft with a bit too much, I feel redemption after Iowa.
While Kevin Landrigan hit the Romney number and the margin of victory rather well, the fact that he had Huntsman in fifth place knocks down his punditry prowess. Steve Lombardo of Huffington Post not only had the margin way too high (24 points like UNH), but like ARG, he actually had Huntsman edging Ron Paul for second, so we need to hold that very much against them. Among pollsters in my sample, probably Suffolk wins the prize although it was releasing a daily tracking poll so it depends which day you use (I choose the final day).
Ron Paul’s universally better than predicted showing can be explained by a curiously low turnout. Oh, I know, the lame stream media is telling you that this was a record turnout for a Republican primary. And in fact, Secretary of State William Gardner's prediction of 250,000 was almost exactly right. However, with absolutely no race on the Democratic side, nearly all Undeclared voters opted for a Republican ballot. Had Republicans been voting in record numbers, we would have seen turnout closer to 300,000, and Romney would have won by even more. Fewer than expected actual Republicans cast ballots, not a good sign for the GOP heading into a fall campaign against Obama. That certainly isn't the Republican party line, but as always I prefer the truth to any party line.
As fewer Republicans voted and more Undeclared voters took Republican ballots, Ron Paul’s percentage was driven up. Had Huntsman not been in the race, Dr. Paul might well have hit 30-33 percent, but that’s speculation.
Of course, the bad news for Democrats is that 19 percent actually went out to vote against Obama. Spinners like Debbie Wassermann Schultz (what a vile humanoid she is!) will pretend not to worried, but they should be. George Bush received a similar low number in the 2004 uncontested Republican primary, and he lost the state in November.
Here’s the chart.
NH Primary--How Pollsters/Pundits Did
Candidate Actual Nate SV Huff Kevin Suffolk UNH Ras
Romney 39.4 39 40 42 38 37 41 37
Ron Paul 22.8 19 20 18 20 18 17 17
Huntsman 17 17 13 19 10 16 11 15
Santorum 9 10 12 11 16 11 11 13
Gingrich 9 10 11 9 13 9 8 12
1 vs. 2 16.6 20 20 24 20 21 24 20
Always on the lookout to get an early sense of what the final results will be, I headed to Manchester Ward 2 which I’ve discovered usually mirrors statewide returns about as well as any town or ward you’re likely to find. Sure enough, Ward 2 came through again. I’ve put this chart together to compare certain Manchester wards. Again, surprises are few. Upscale Ward 1 went more for Romney and Huntsman came in second. Ron Paul did very well in West Side Ward 10, but the big surprise is that he won West Side Ward 11, lower socio-economically and traditionally thought of as French Catholic territory (thus perhaps explaining Santorum's slightly better showing). I also included my own Ward 8, right in the middle of upscale and downscale and not surprisingly in the middle of support for Romney although slightly higher than usual.
NH Primary—Manchester2 Is Bellwether
Candidate State Wd 2 Wd 10 Wd 11 Wd 1 Wd 8 Manch
Romney 39.4 38.3 31.6 30.0 43.6 41.3 37.2
Ron Paul 22.8 22.9 28.8 34.7 16.0 21.1 24.7
Huntsman 17 16.2 10.2 10.0 19.0 13.3 14.4
Santorum 9 9.6 12.9 13.7 7.6 10.6 10.1
Gingrich 9 11.4 10.2 10.1 12.0 12.2 11.6
1 vs. 2 16.6 15.4 2.8 -4.7 24.6 20.2 12.5