06 May 2007

Suburbanized New Hampshire Now Voting Liberal

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Staggering rises in real estate prices caused many Boston-area workers to commute long distances from Southern New Hampshire in order to be able to afford a decent house. The Southern end of the Granite state also has been afflicted with tax refugees from Massachusetts who moved to New Hampshire, but brought their liberal politics with them. And, being scenic, comparatively unspoiled, and rural, New Hampshire was unfortunate enough as to attract wealthy liberal retirees and Trustafarian bolsheviks yearning to hug some trees.

David Shribman warns that the impact of the invasion of flatlanders into New Hampshire has alarming national ramifications.

New Hampshire, which voted for Richard Nixon on a national ticket five times and went for George W. Bush in 2000, might be regarded as the elusive last blue piece in the northeastern section of the political jigsaw puzzle. …

How does all this affect the national political scene?

The short answer can be rendered in the two-word way you might have expected from Calvin Coolidge, who was from Vermont but whose taciturn style was strictly northern New England: a lot.

It means that here in New Hampshire, where you are now more likely to get a handmade latte in a coffeehouse than a homemade slice of apple pie in a diner, the governing assumptions of Democratic primary voters next January will be that the war in Iraq is a travesty, that the Bush tax cuts should be repealed, that the respect New Hampshire voters have always given to solemn national institutions like the presidency is a thing of the past (expect a fusillade of anti-Bush ads in the coming months, no holds barred), and that the wage and wealth gap between rich and poor will be a point of departure for debate and not a point of debate itself. The voters have made New Hampshire safe for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

But not only safe. New Hampshire, which lured Michael Dukakis and many of his campaigning colleagues over the years ever so slightly to the right, now will nudge Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards to the left. This will not be hard to do, given their natural inclinations. …

New Hampshire has lost its distinction, which is a cultural shame and a national problem.

The cultural shame is that the state, once protected from foolishness by the White Mountains (and, farther south, by a lingering sense of remoteness), is more like the rest of the country than it used to be, which by any definition cannot be good. The national problem, for the Democrats this time, may be that New Hampshire won’t offer a cautionary brake for the party and its potential nominee. …

The result may very well be that the nomination process will be more warped than usual. This time the entire universe of voters in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary may be more motivated, more passionate and more liberal than ever. All politics may be local, but in New Hampshire, all local politics are national.

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