Feb 6, 2016 7:26 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report: The 2016 Primary

This is my 10th presidential primary I've covered in New Hampshire.

And by far it has been the most bizarre, zany and unpredictable.

For that reason it's irresisistible for me not to make this the First (and Hopefully Not the Last) New Hampshire Political Report that predicts the outcome of the First-in-The-Nation primary.

As usual, Secretary of State Bill Gardner is of course correct this will be a record-breaking turnout.

Because of reasons I will explain below independent voters are 20 percent more likely to take a Republican primary ballot in this contest, and that will clearly affect the outcomes and winning margins of both contests.

These numbers by definition will be off at least by a small margin as I will not account for the 3 to 3.5 percent that vote for Vermin Supreme, Daffy Duck and in some cases candidates who have already dropped out. I am not concerned with those contenders nor should you be.

So without further caveat, excuses or other alibis, let's proceed to the picks.


  • DONALD TRUMP: 32 percent.
    Let's consider for a moment the numerous ways this has been an unconventional New Hampshire favorite to say the least.
    1) He's never as a candidate spent the night in the Granite State. Think about that when you ponder the investment all these hopefuls have made to New Hampshire.
    2) Until Thursday when he scheduled in a post-Iowa panic five campaign stops he stopped a streak of 12 campaign days in which he did one (count them) events before hopping on the jet to make his bed time in the Trump Tower
    3) More than 80 percent of his campaign events were sermons from the mount, no questions from the audience. Contrast that with John Kasich who had 100 town hall events where the queries came fast and furious.
    All that said, Trump touched a nerve in the electorate here like no other candidate in either party and for that he earns his props.
    People here are frustrated with the gridlock in Washington and a growing number believe the leadership in both political parties are more determined to devote time to self preservation than they are to genuinely solving the nation's problems.
    It still remains unclear how far this magical mystery tour of Trump's will go, perhaps all the way to the nomination maybe instead a crash into a political mountain once Trump loses some support and has to turn to the other 65 percent or so of the primary electorate all of whom have an unfavorable view of him.
    But he'll win on Tuesday the old-fashioned way having earned it in a manner that only The Donald could.

  • MARCO RUBIO: 22 percent.
    The Florida senator will be the Ron Paul of 2012, the candidate who the day after these results are counted political observers of all stripes will try to figure out how he did it.
    The difference is Paul could politically do nothing with his runner-up showing to Mitt Romney four years ago; Rubio could parlay this finish if it comes about to another step on the road to the nomination.
    First a surprising third place finish in Iowa followed by this above the expectations, second prize in New Hampshire.
    Rubio is hoping this would catapult him into a position where the Washington establishment decides he's the GOP hopeful most poised to stop Trump if he gets the resources.

  • JOHN KASICH: 13 percent.
    This will be impressive for the Ohio governor if he's able to top the group of governors vying for the nomination and emerge from this pack without as much money or early establishment support as either Chris Christie, Jeb Bush or Rubio.
    But time will tell whether it proves to be good enough for him not just to move on but become a viable contender. By itself this doesn't cut it.

  • CHRIS CHRISTIE: 10 percent.
    For effort, the New Jersey governor deserves a better fate than this. But in every crowded primary there's a worthy adversary who fails to either get enough attention on merit or warrant more focus of the national media than what he receives. Christie is head and shoulders the best retail campaigner in this field; that alone was not enough in this atypical political season of ours.
    Again he'll have great difficulty doing much with this showing down the road if this is what he amounts to in the Granite State after having gotten endorsements from The Union Leader of New Hampshire, the speaker of the House and the top Republican leaders in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the State Senate.

  • TED CRUZ: 9 percent.
    Disappointing if this is the showing, you bet especially coming on the heels of a head-turning win in the Iowa caucus.
    But early on the Texas senator put together a very credible trioika to run his New Hampshire operation [-] former US Sen. Bob Smith, ex-House Speaker Bill O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, and Executive Councilor David Wheeler, R-Milford.
    Cruz proceeded to leave the state and pursue with abandon the Hawkeye State which he captured; in fact Cruz didn't even show up on the day these big names endorsed his candidacy.
    In the closing weeks, Cruz did enough here to remain at least credible and not drop off the map like sadly Mike Huckabee did after winning Iowa in 2008 because Huckabee even more than Cruz had a natural constituency here.

  • JEB BUSH: 7 percent.
    Wow, this really hurts and especially coming after a former Florida governor who had a pretty good closing two weeks in the Granite State. The problem with Bush is Trump branded him and it stuck [-] the low energy candidate.
    Like I said, Bush got better, offered some of the finest and detail policy proposals and did a better job than anyone getting the establishment money behind him.
    But to a degree in both parties, Bush fell prey to the familiar name fatigue that's set in among party regulars. This was the fifth Bush campaign for president in New Hampshire and even many who backed George H. and George W. to the mat decided to move elsewhere this time.
    Ironically, Jeb Bush may have had a better resume for governining from the center than either his father or brother but they came first.

  • CARLY FIORINA: 4 percent.
    She too deserves better; a solid campaigner, she needed to move past a good stump speech which she never really did but also a victim of a large field and some very unkind and hard-hitting attacks from Trump both for her looks and her acumen as CEO of Hewlett Packard during its toughest financial times.
    Count on this. If the GOP wins this November, Fiorina will have a spot in Washington if she wants it likely in the economic cabinet.

  • BEN CARSON: 4 percent.
    This one is even more head-scratching than other successful private sector figures who think this political game is much easier than it really is.
    From right out of the shoot, Carson was over-matched. He clearly had a personality deficit, looked like he was sleep walking rather than campaigning more than half of the time and did a poorer job as a candidate selling his personal story than he did as a medical celebrity prior to the 2016 run.
    Carson could be an intriguing candidate for US Senate from his retirement perch in Florida some day but I doubt if he'd stoop that low politically.


  • BERNIE SANDERS: 54 percent
    The Vermont senator wasn't even a Democrat until this campaign began and even more than Howard Dean in 2004 he started out sounding like a populist candidate who could not possibly win over enough votes to capture this primary.
    But like what happened to Bush in the Republican party, devoted liberals in the Democratic contest were searching endlessly for someone they could believe in, someone who retained that idealism that first interested them in politics and even in playing a bit part in the first-in-the-nation sweepstakes.
    At the ripe age of 74, Sanders has never lost the youthful enthusiasm of someone who thinks he really can lead a political revolution if he can just inspire enough people to buy into it with him.
    This does not put Sanders on the path to the nomination: not by a long shot.
    More importantly for Clinton this kind of win is not so unsettling that it makes Democratic establishment figures (read Vice President Joe Biden) to think it's time for them to jump into this race.
    It remains pretty darn impressive, however.

  • HILLARY CLINTON: 46 percent.
    She comes from a family of closers; Bill did it to Paul Tsongas in 1992, outperforming the polls big time to steal all the headlines even though he came in second. And Hillary in 2008 beat a future president after he had rocked her world and pushed her down into a third place finish in Iowa.
    Her final week since the narrow Iowa win was more than credible; she owned the news cycle, not Sanders, for the most part, clearly won the UNH debate on Thursday night and finally settled on an issue where Sanders was weak and vulnerable: foreign policy and national security.
    It did seem, however, to be too little too late.
    Again, she'll clearly recover from this, regain her feet and go on to win the nomination.
    But in many respects if it comes to this, it will be the first real loss for the Clinton franchise and that by itself would be historic.


What we saw in the State Senate last week on the heroin epidemic rescue bill should make any sober observer conclude the 2016 session is going to be a very partisan one.

The specific topic was legislation to allow for all counties to set up drug courts.

Senate Republicans were willing to go along with this despite the price tag (at least $2.5 million and likely up to double that) as long as $5 million more was deposited into the state's Rainy Day Fund.

Two Senate Democrats went along with this idea in committee but by the time it got to the full Senate all of them had rejected it.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Daltonm, said the Rainy Day Fund had already been replenished and had the most money in it since 2009 and with many pressing needs for cash to battle this drug crisis it was no time to be taking cash and hoarding it.

"I think you saw what we should see a fair amount and that's partisan wrangling,"said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro. "We're going to work to see that it's keep to a minimum but I have to admit that will be no easy task."

A popular Democratic governor faces a new political challenge.

It's time to bring the focus on to job creation and come up with a new program.

Yes we've seen this movie before.

This week with Gov. Maggie Hassan's State of the State message we saw Gateway to Work, a new "repurposing of federal funds'' to devote more money to job training and apprenticeship work to especially place into new jobs adults in the expanded Medicaid population or those who have been on the welfare rolls.

Now that's pretty smart branding for a two-term Democratic chief executive who has eyes on retiring the state's most popular Republican, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH.

After the recession crushed the economy in 2009, then-Democratic Gov. John Lynch came up with Pathway to Work which included encouraging employers to give up to two months of on-the-job training for future employees.

Rewind another decade and we had 1999 and then-Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen spoke about ``Making it Work'' and pioneered the start of turning our unemployment offices into job centers.


Quote of the Week:

"I'm appalled an outside group exploited." - Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, reacts to the pro-Kasich Super PAC ad that, in bad taste, used Ayotte's press conference promoting the Anti-Violence Against Women Act to savage Rubio for having voted against the bill. Within hours of Ayotte putting out the statement, Kasich had demanded the ad be pulled, and it was, after less than a 24-hour airing on New Hampshire television.

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