A Maverick Nominee?
A couple of New Hampshire-related items have popped up in the national press today to provide us with a little food for thought over the weekend. E.J. Dionne writes in The Washington Post about what he sees as a jump ball contest between Barack Obama and John McCain for the Granite State’s four electoral votes. Over at The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder switches his prognostication on New Hampshire from leaning Obama to a toss-up, noting that he is, “getting the sense from some NH Dems that the big liberal wave has crested there.” Even with a new ARG poll showing Obama leading in New Hampshire by 12 points, the feeling persists among some political professionals that McCain’s special relationship with New Hampshire voters will ultimately provide him with enough electoral juice to pull off a third win here in November.
I have suggested previously that McCain’s ability to win in New Hampshire this fall will depend in part on whether his new role as the head of a large national political organization undercuts his ability to run the sort of insurgent campaign that characterized his previous victories in the state. McCain faces a difficult challenge in being the presumptive nominee of his party, while also trying to maintain his winning identity as a maverick politician. In particular, McCain should be careful that a desire to rally his party’s conservative base does not push him too far afield of the reform message that resonated so strongly with independent (undeclared) voters here in 2000 and 2008. Such a move might improve McCain's chances in some other states, but it would probably hurt him in New Hampshire.

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