Four years ago in the Republican purge of November 2006, when Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, Republican Charlie Bass (NH-2) was ousted from his seat by Democrat Paul Hodes, who is now running what is very likely a losing battle for the Senate against Kelly Ayotte. Back then I wrote this about the loss by Mr. Bass:
I kept hearing about the vaunted Republican turnout machine in the run-up to the election. And yet, those voters simple evaporated, never showed up. How can we tell? Let's look at the loss of Congressman Charlie Bass to Paul Hodes in NH-2, which happens to be my district. Using rough numbers, in 2004, (admittedly a high profile Presidential year) Mr. Bass received 193,000 votes to Mr. Hodes 125,000, in a state that John Kerry won (barely). In the last midterm year, 2002, Bass received 125,000 votes out of 220,000 votes total. This year there were roughly 205,000 votes, or despite the intensity of the runup to this election, a 7% drop in total votes. Bass received only 93,000, 100,000 fewer than he got in 2004. Where did all these voters go? They didn't go to Hodes, who received 108,000 votes, less than he got in 2004, and only 13,000 more than the Democrat got in 2002.
So where did they go? They went shopping.
The problem for Mr. Bass in 2006 wasn't the tidal wave of votes in favor of Paul Hodes. It was the ebb of votes that he received. Voters, after much Democratic demagoguery ably assisted by a complicit media, became disenchanted with the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq and punished those associated with it by going shopping. Mr. Bass was a casualty.
Now, I'm not an avid Charlie Bass backer. I supported Jennifer Horn in the primary. But I like him, his ideas, and the 'R' next to his name much more than his the comparable characteristics of his opponent in this year's attempt to return to the House. Ann Kuster is an unreconstructed leftist. Not only does she favor ObamaCare, she wants the 'public option', i.e., single payer. She's in favor of raising taxes on the job creators in a recession. And she's proudly a "community activist," and certainly a Democratic activist. As the NH Union-Leader said in their endorsement of Mr. Bass,
Hodes' liberalism was too much for the voters of the 2nd District, which is more moderate than the 1st District, but not as liberal as Vermont. But New Hampshire Democrats have not been able to maintain the facade they erected in 2004, with which they present themselves as traditional New Hampshire moderates, not the Vermont-style liberals they really are. Last month, they nominated someone even more liberal than Paul Hodes to run for the 2nd District seat: Concord lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster.
Kuster is so liberal she thinks Obamacare didn't go far enough in taking over the health care and health insurance industries. She actually thinks the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 caused the recession. She supports the stimulus and thinks Washington should pass another one.
The people of New Hampshire want representatives in Washington who will put the brakes on the Obama agenda, not accelerate it. In the 2nd District, that means electing an actual moderate, not a liberal who pretends to be one. It means electing Charlie Bass.
This is probably not the year to be either type of activist. This year, with the Obama Administration's policy overreach, which I plan to discuss in a subsequent post and which is comparable as a motivating factor to the Iraq war in 2006, Charlie Bass will win. The Boston Globe reported recently a UNH poll and found that in NH-2 it was Kuster 43% - Bass 40%. I don't generally do predictions, but today it will be Bass 53% - Kuster 46%. It's going to be hard for Ms. Kuster to find voters motivated for more of what the Democrats in Washington are peddling. Today those voters decide not to go shopping ... or perhaps because of the economy they can't. This one will flip to the Republicans, and it won't be that close.
11/2/10 1100: The Cook Political Report has a neat little dashboard gadget. Just slide along the second bar graph and find the race you want. Bass-Kuster is in the "toss-up" category in the toward the left end of the green bar. Check whatever race interests you.
11/3/10 1730: Looks like my political predicting days have not yet arrived. I thought there'd be more conservative voters showing up at the polls, but although Bass won he underperformed, at 48 to 47% for Kuster, a 4000 vote margin. And total votes were only about 213,000, fairly typical for a midterm in NH 2nd district despite having Kelly Ayotte highlighting the Senate race and a close gubernatorial contest along with policy issues. Well, New Hampshire, with no sales tax and no income tax, has weathered the economic seas better than most. Unemployment is still roughly 5.5% here.
Hmmm. I guess they actually could go shopping.