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Ticket Splitting May Rule the Day in New Hampshire

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Senator Hillary Clinton is traveling to New Hampshire Tuesday to campaign for Barack Obama and Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen. Former Republican Massachusetts Governor and Senate candidate William Weld endorsed Senator Obama in New Hampshire Friday. Colin Powell's endorsement, which not only praised Obama's readiness and judgement, but slammed McCain's tactics and politics. Significant. Lieberman, still in the hunt for something.

Weld and Powell, hung out at times by their party as outliers because they are big-tent republicans. And Obama has indicated he will create a team of rivals, opening a door for them.

Could McCain still win? It is possible. You can't know him and rule it out. White male voters were shaking their heads about McCain's chances this week at his rally in New Hampshire, a rally with less attendance than the last Sarah Palin rally in Salem, NH.

There is still a gender split in New Hampshire. Husbands are shaking their heads, annoyed by what they feel is the hijacking of McCain's message by the far right. But sleeping next to them are their wives, who shout Sarah and "drill, baby, drill" at the same rallies they drag their husbands to.

These women are not Democrats. They are Republicans and "Undelcared" voters. Four out of five Democrats in New Hampshire have lined up behind Obama, regardless of gender. If McCain were to win New Hampshire, much of the credit would have to go to Palin for energizing Republicans and independent voters.

Over 40% of the New Hampshire electorate is registered "Undeclared." The numbers of those affiliated with each the Democratic and Republican parties are nearly half of that. But unlike the Primary, voters on Nov. 4th can be as independent as they want. It could be that the plurality of voters in New Hampshire vote independent of party.

Therein lies Obama's test. Generally, Republicans have yet to vote for or against him. He won the Democratic Nomination. There is little evidence in New Hampshire or elsewhere as to whether Republicans will cross fertilize and vote D or not.

What if this year, more of the country is like New Hampshire than usual? What if ticket splitting rules the day?

The fundamentals have favored Democrats since 2006. The economic crisis favors a change in administration. McCain's lack of focus and consistency when he suspended his campaign favors the democrats. If voters make the decision to throw out incumbent Republicans in their home states, they may just decide to give McCain his last chance at the White House. They may decide Obama can come in next term and McCain can't. McCain has already indicated he won't seek a second term if he wins. Maybe he says it louder next week.

Or maybe not, and we go back to the fundamentals and it remains a year that favors Democrats top to bottom. The voters will decide. And we'll wait just a little longer to find out what their decision will be.