McCain and Paul Will Make NH Interesting

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 11, 2007 3:48 PM


While most of the talk this week has focused around Iowa, New Hampshire is just five days later, on June 8.

And while Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee battle for Iowa, John McCain and Ron Paul -- both once presumed innocuous by much of the political panjandrum -- stand to have a major impact on the outcome of the first Primary in the nation, and could potentially bollix everything up.

McCain, of course, won New Hampshire in 2000.  His sardonic humor, curmudgeonly style, and unexpurgated straight-talk plays well this sort of milieu.  What is more, his incessant style of campaigning, which largely consists of speaking to voters at Town Hall events, is extremely effective and efficient in this small state where pecuniary benefits are not as important as they are elsewhere.

And if Hillary Clinton should win Iowa, it's possible that enough of the Independents and Democrats who might otherwise vote for Barack Obama would cross-over and vote for McCain, as state law allows, thereby giving him a victory.  It is entirely possible McCain will win New Hampshire, but regardless, it is highly probable he will have a major impact on the race.

Ron Paul's style also fits well into the "Live Free or Die" ethos of New Hampshire.  Like "Pitchfork" Pat Buchanan, who garnered an impressive 38 percent of the vote in 1992 against George H.W. Bush, Buchanan's progeny, "Pitchfork" Paul, has the potential to surprise the so-called experts in New Hampshire.

Of course, unlike McCain, Ron Paul will also have plenty of money ...  On December 17, 1773, American Patriots dumped tea into the Boston Harbor to protest taxation, and to celebrate, on December 17, 2007, Ron Paul will attempt to raise $10 million on the internet ... in one day.  Can he do it?  Considering he raised more than $4 million on Guy Fawkes day, it's not out of the question.  While political insiders consider his "Paulites" to be the political Lumpenproletariat, Paul continues to rake in the dollars.  He probably won't win, but he will have an impact in deciding who does win.

And with the feckless and indolent Fred Thompson out of the New Hampshire race, and Romney and Huckabee fighting it out in Iowa, McCain and Paul will likely have a lot more face-time than other candidates -- in a state that values meeting their candidates.

Of course, a Romney or Huckabee victory in Iowa might also create enough momentum to propel either to the top stop in New Hampshire, thereby undercutting McCain and Paul's chances. 

Lacking any historical model, it is impossible to predict whether or not the short time frame between Iowa and New Hampshire will increase -- or decrease -- the amount of momentum gained from winning Iowa.  This has essentially been the Gordian knot for 2008 political prognosticators.