New Hampshire had the potential to be another passion versus organization fight. John McCain has had amazing events overflowing with people. Mitt Romney not so much, with some evidence of Massachusetts astroturf.
The polls seemed to settle on a 3-5 margin for McCain. Normally, I would have added another point or two to Romney’s numbers because Romney’s campaign is almost certainly doing better GOTV. But not today. Not with this turnout. Listening to one of the cable stations, one analyst said that the leading campaigns don’t really think that they need to do their own turnout. It is happening for them.
Returning to the numbers, Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicted 500k votes, substantially more than the 2006 general election numbers. The 2006 general election numbers, at least nationwide, suggested that hard GOP voters, which polls suggest Romney and McCain are splitting with, in some polls, a slight advantage to Romney. I remember the RNC’s spin that if they turnout 80% of the 2004 base in 2006, they would win the election. They achieved their goals, but the Dems did so much better. Left-leaning independents and Democrats turned out at record numbers.
I am trying to figure out where the rest of the turnout is coming from. One option is right-leaning independents, which would be a good sign for McCain. Are hard Republicans really expanding the universe? Are there really Democrats and lefty-independents who want to vote now who didn’t want to vote in 2006? I have trouble seeing how this isn’t good for McCain. The passion seen in his events may be replicated at the polls today. Check out this coverage from the Boston Globe:
"It has been steady heavy all day," said Herb Pence, a church volunteer who has worked on election day at least a dozen times. "It wasn’t intense like this before — on both sides, Republican and Democrat." …
The turnout in Manchester’s First Ward appeared to be especially high for those who have not participated before: while there was a significant line for "registered voters" in the church basement, the line for "new voters" was far longer, snaking around the stairs.
The only other theory than a boom for McCain is a boom for Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee. Many state party officials except Paul and Huckabee to place above Giuliani tonight.