A word on New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a quirky place, and the political winds change with the same unpredictability as the weather on Mount Washington. We just don't know, but we will soon.
I grew up in New Hampshire. My brother Jay still lives there. His kids went to the same high school we both graduated from. It’s not a big state, and though it has been “invaded” by rabid libertarians and Massachusetts transplants, there are some quirky things that don’t change in the north country.
One of the things that doesn’t change is the circus of politics every four years. I remember when Bill Clinton spoke at the technical school next door to the condominium Jay and I shared back in 1992. I walked up through the stand of trees between my back porch and the field where Ol’ Bill was speaking, and of course got noticed by the State Police (don’t stand in a treeline when the Secret Service is around). I was told I could listen from my porch, not from the trees.
Before that was the time I crashed George H.W. Bush’s victory party in 1988. My work office was literally across the parking lot from Bush’s hotel suite, and I could watch him eat breakfast from my window every morning as the same joggers ran by over and over again. After the primary, I decided to saunter over to the hotel to see what was up. In those days I wore a suit to work, so I fit right in. I indulged a few snacks and a drink (who can resist a free buffet and bar?).
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So when the Secret Service sealed the room for the sitting Vice President to give his speech, I thought I had overstayed my welcome, but there was no way to flee. Then Governor John Sununu came to the podium to introduce Bush. The podium mic had been set up for Bush, who was 6’4”, and Sununu—is not tall. It was awkward, and in the moment, he spied me at the back of the room and gave a nod.
I had met Sununu a few times before, and he knew me on sight. I also wore one of Sununu’s state flag pins on my lapel, that he had swapped me for one I wore when I worked for a bank. (Side note: I gifted that pin to Erick Erickson, who I hope still has it). I figured I was about to be escorted from the room in a not-so-good way, being uninvited and all. But instead, after Bush gave a completely unmemorable speech, Sununu grabbed me and asked if I wanted to meet the Vice President.
Why not? So I got to shake George H.W. Bush’s hand just before the elevator doors closed. “How ya doin?”
If I was there now, I suppose Governor Chris Sununu might do the same thing for some displaced twenty-something at Nikki Haley’s party. Whether it will be a victory party, or something like Bill Clinton’s second-place finish where he dubbed himself the “Comeback Kid” is yet to be seen.
But New Hampshire is a quirky place, and the political winds change with the same unpredictability as the weather on Mount Washington. Every year, experienced hikers get stranded in those mountain passes, and some die. Novice hikers miraculously make it through snap blizzard conditions. You just don’t know how the fickle weather demons will mess with the plans of people.
Politics in the Granite State is about like that. All the polls say Donald Trump is going to whomp whomp Nikki Haley. That may well be true. However, before anyone else went to the polls, the six quirky people in Dixville Notch who are registered voters all chose the Republican ballot, and they all voted for Haley. So far, the count is Haley 100%, Trump 0%. This is predictive of nothing; it’s just one of the quirks in a quirky place where the North Woods, the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, and the Seacoast are within four hours driving of each other.
Tonight, we very well might see Haley squeak out a victory. It would be a miracle, but in keeping with the state where Meldrim Thomson was one of the weirdest governors to ever sit in a state house, that sports the fourth-largest legislative body in the world after the U.S. Congress, the English and Indian Parliaments (400 in the lower house, or one representative for every 3,250 residents), that has neither an income tax or a sales tax, that the state keeps a monopoly on the sale of hard liquor, where the locals laugh at you because it means they like you. (If New Hampshirites don’t like you, they don’t talk to you at all.)
The state where Vermin Supreme runs in every presidential election, sporting a boot for a hat is not known for being predictable. But the state that hoisted a middle finger to the Democratic National Committee and the entire Democratic Party headed by the sitting President Joe Biden, not even considering for a second repealing a state law that proclaims New Hampshire must be the first primary in the nation, to the point where the president is not on the ballot, is not going to just submit to the Trump machine without a twist.
Either Trump will be elevated to history as the first Republican candidate in over 40 years to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in the same election cycle, or he will suffer the fate of so many who thought they could use the taciturn yankees to their own advantage.
We will know soon enough.