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August 23, 2007

Jennifer Donahue: McCain Understands the Granite State

Posted in: N.H. Presidential Primary Debates, New Hampshire Primary, New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Faculty/Staff in the News, Announcements

Jennifer Donahue on CNNIn a recent opt-ed published in the Boston Globe, Jennifer Donahue, NHIOP senior advisor for political affairs, wrote about Sen. John McCain's chances in New Hampshire given the recent shake up in his campaign staff.

"Senator John McCain just spent two weekends in a row in New Hampshire. Unlike some of the candidates who didn't run in 2000, he understands two important things about the state's presidential primary contest. One is the importance of the August before the primary. In August 1999, McCain solidified his base in New Hampshire, while George W. Bush all but ignored the state. McCain won the primary, though not the nomination.

The other thing McCain knows is that New Hampshire gives supposedly faltering front-runners a chance to come back. By campaigning intensely in the state, Al Gore effectively stamped Bill Bradley out in August 1999. Similarly, as insurgent Howard Dean focused on Iowa over New Hampshire in August 2003, John Kerry faced frustrated voters in New Hampshire — and ended up winning.

What McCain has in common this year with Gore and Kerry is that the press anointed all three as front-runners before the campaign began. The expectations for such "early favorites" are often based on polls taken so early that only the candidates with existing name recognition place well.

These expectations are also impossible to meet. As obscure candidates become known and gain a little ground in the polls, it suddenly looks as though the front-runner is in free fall. The money race is then affected by the press coverage and poll numbers, which make it harder for the "early favorites" to raise funds."

To read Jennifer Donahue's opt-ed in its entirety, visit www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/21/mccain_understands_granite_state.

Photo by Doug Minor


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