Is New Hampshire still a presidential bellwether?

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Is New Hampshire still a presidential bellwether?

November 15, 2020 | News | No Comments

Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in New Hampshire doesn’t stay here. It leaks out and spreads over time across the country, even the world.


What is often overheard here in public might be seen as first-generation rumination, original thinking or grumbling discontent; rude and unfinished half-thought, bubbling up in the mountains until it finds public form and fashion in the world below maybe a generation later.

Perhaps that is why we have been listened to in the deep past and why people still listen today.

With a few days left before one of the most fateful elections in America’s modern age, I called up New Hampshire’s Dave Carney, former senior adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and former political director to President George H.W. Bush, and asked him if New Hampshire is still the bellwether it once was and what can we expect after Nov. 8.

Bernie Quigley: Does New Hampshire still have that cachet which has made it a bellwether for the rest of the country? Do they listen in Texas when we speak in New Hampshire?

Dave Carney: This election will determine if we’re still a target state or not. And we want to be a target state. Those states that are not solidly in one camp or the other are important to the national conversation.

New Hampshire made the drug crisis a front-page story; the national candidates flowed to tour, listen and learn from law enforcement, rehab workers and families devastated by the opioid epidemic.

Were we Vermont or Oklahoma, that would not have been the case.

Why was [Republican] Sen. [Kelly] Ayotte able to pass legislation to address the crisis? Because she represents a target state.

If the Democrats win on Tuesday, then too many election cycles will have passed where the state voted for one party and we will lose our clout and our voice.

BQ: Is GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s running even with Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE in New Hampshire an indication that he will win the state and therefore, the country and the presidency?

DC: Trump has legs in New Hampshire. His message, when he’s on message, is perfect for the huge middle class that’s been left behind over the past 20 years.

Drive through any midsized town or city and you will see vacant shop floors, distressed housing and empty office space. This affects everyone. Those buildings did not get built on spec; they were once thriving and now they lay dormant as do the thousands of folks who once proudly worked there.

Trump’s “jobs” and “it’s time to drain the swamp” messages are pitch-perfect to win the vote of those not in the public sector.

BQ: Is Trump in your opinion a dangerous precedent for so many reasons, but especially in foreign policy, where high command generals say they will not follow his orders if they are unconstitutional?

DC: Trump is a threat. He will destabilize the status quo — not in global affairs, but in the D.C. golden triangle which is the bureaucrats in government, congressional members and staffers and the corporations that live off federal spending.

The revolving door between lawmakers, regulators and corporate cronyism is a lifetime of employment and enrichment. They fear Trump won’t play that game and he might just upset the golden apple cart.

BQ: What are conservatives to do next? Support Trump or find an alternative direction?

DC: If Trump wins or loses, the conservatives will have opened their eyes and ears to the voice of those who have stood up and said we want our country back.

The party will groan, and our family arguments will be public and embarrassing, but we will be stronger and more impactful if we stop and listen to common sense that has been screaming for help since 2009.

BQ: Is there a current New Hampshire model for the future?

DC: Well, sound values, competent and real, life-experienced leaders of either party will continue to be successful.

We’ve grown weary of the feckless politicians we’ve been saddled with of late. I think the family model might help with name identification, but the downside is the baggage that accompanies a political family. Chris Sununu [a member of the state’s Executive Council] has gotten where he is by the strength of his own hard work, skills and understanding of the issues facing families and small-business owners and their employees.

BQ: What about Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE’s future, as she is ahead in the polls plus-3. She does seem archetypal New Hampshire. Does she open the gates for conservative women in politics? Could she run for president in 2020? Could South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R)?

DC: Sen. Ayotte has an unlimited future and we’re lucky to have someone who is as talented a public servant as she is. Our state’s future is unlimited with with folks like Kelly Ayotte and Chris Sununu in the mix.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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