Why New Hampshire hasn't joined the anti-Romney bandwagon
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney struggles to get more than 20 percent support in most polls. But he's long held a healthy lead in New Hampshire. The two are well matched.
Gallery Repeat contender: Mitt Romney
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One reason: He’s not taking the Granite State for granted.
Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, hasn’t rested on his laurels since finishing second here to Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the 2008 primary. He’s crisscrossed the state holding town hall meetings, and he’s campaigned not only for himself, but also on behalf of local candidates, building a solid network of Republican support.
For New Hampshire primary voters, such known brands are appealing, political experts say.
Romney, who attended a forum sponsored by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Friday, is also “a good fit ideologically for the state’s Republican voters,” says Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
While the label “New England Republican” may earn Romney scoffs among the more conservative wing of the party nationally, among Republicans here, “moderate and somewhat conservative” voters dominate, Professor Scala says. “This is not a state where tea party Republican voters have the upper hand.”
According to the count on Romney’s campaign website, he’s been endorsed by 47 New Hampshire state representatives and 8 state senators. In late October, he officially won the endorsement of one of the most well-known Republicans in the state, former Gov. John Sununu.
Part of Romney’s lead can be attributed to the perceived lack of credibility among some of his opponents, says Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. “Voters are starting to figure out that there are a group of people in this race looking to sell books and get a media contract after the election, and Romney isn’t one of them.”
In New Hampshire and nationally, Romney has also avoided the missteps that have tripped up opponents like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Herman Cain. And even things like being on time for events make a difference. Mr. Cain kept his supporters waiting over an hour Thursday at a rally in Nashua. But when Romney holds an event, “it’s like a Swiss watch,” Mr. Levesque says.