As I write this, the NH Primary is less than a day away. Sometime tomorrow I will walk into my polling place, ignoring the earnest greetings of sign toting volunteers along my route to the door, and go into a booth to face my choice alone. Who do I honestly think will be the best President? By Wednesday morning the polls will have closed, the results announced, speeches made and hotel rooms checkout out of. The 2016 Presidential Campaign will lumber on without a backward glance.
We in NH can have our state back. Of course I realize the First in the Nation primary brings lots of money and attention to a state that’s often overlooked. I know why we fight to keep it. Without an income tax, NH needs all the help it can get to earn revenue — even annoying, self-serving help. A winter without snow has shown us how unreliable Mother Nature can be when it comes to drawing skiers to the slopes and money to our coffers.
And nobody minds (including us) being paid attention to, having (however brief) influence, making well-heeled politicians and press slog though the same slushy streets we do.
This season has been particularly brutal. As an acknowledged member of one of the parties since the new year, I’m getting multiple (12+ daily) phone calls, emails, print mail pieces — the tv/radio spots are constant and unavoidable. Signs are up and volunteers clutch them in chilled hands, cheering like crazy at the honk of a passing car. I’ve had no less than four campaigns come to my door.
And still the polls still show lots of us are undecided.
Maybe it’s me, but I find it hard to believe that any serious voter’s mind is changed by all the foolishness we call campaigning. I can’t help but think that the press fuel so much of it, along with career politicians desperate to get a job and pollsters desperate to keep interest. The whole thing has evolved into a wasteful display of ambition and influence peddling — absolutely better than armed conflict to get a change in leadership, but awful in its own way.
Here’s what I wish the campaigns (on all sides) would understand.
- Do candidates really think voters are so easily swayed that a phone call by a charmingly enthusiastic staffer will get us to an event? You overestimate the importance of seeing you in person when I can just as easily see you on TV. You are, in fact, everywhere.
- Do candidates expect the slew of emails and super slick oversized postcards jamming our mailboxes is going to have us cast aside long-held beliefs? That might have worked once, but we’re far too sophisticated an electorate to be bamboozled by half-truths and unflattering photos. You aren’t a reliable source of anything, except waste.
- Do candidates think having someone bother me at home, standing wide-eyed at my doorstep while I try to keep my dog from eating them is gong to influence me in a good way? When was the last time you had a chat on your snow-covered and wind-swept doorstep about politics. How about never?
And while NH might not be all that great in picking the eventual winner, our primary can make (or break) a Presidential campaign. It’s true, a win in the “Live free or Die ” state is going to help you. A failure (or upset) of a favorite can dry up your chances pretty quick.
Tonight, even the media “experts” are admitting that anything can happen. And that we’ll know for sure tomorrow. That’s the only thing they’ve gotten right.