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« Morning Thoughts: Came In On Sunday Once | Blog Home Page | Parties Trade Do-Nothing Barbs »

GOP In Trouble In NH

In 2006, few states felt the anti-Republican backlash as much as New Hampshire. The party lost both its GOP House members as well as majorities in both state legislative chambers, all as Democratic Gov. John Lynch cruised to a record-breaking re-election.

The reversal of fortune came after a 122-year drought in which Democrats could not hold the state legislature and the governorship. It was so bad for Democrats, Froma Harrop wrote last week, that the party once recruited a homeless man to run for office just to have a name on the ballot.

With Sen. John Sununu on the ballot next year, along with his 2002 rival, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, Democrats have another chance to pick up seats in the Granite State in 2008. Shaheen leads Sununu by wide margins in recent polls, and many call the seat one of Democrats' top opportunities of the year.

One indicator to watch: What percentage of independent voters choose Democratic ballots during the state's January 8th primary? In 2000, a large majority took a Republican ballot, helping Sen. John McCain win big and rejuvenating his campaign. This year, though, speculation is mounting that a vast majority of the undeclared will pick up a Democratic ballot.

Who that benefits in the presidential race is probably still up for debate. But one thing is certain: Unless he can win back Independents, Sununu is in for a bad year, likely on par with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's awful 2006.