Yesterday the Sierra Club's 2008 election magical mystery tour with Executive Director Carl Pope and Political Director Cathy Duvall took us to New Hampshire to stump for Gov. (and soon to be Senator) Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes.
As soon as I turned the TV on in my hotel room, it was pretty clear that there was a barnburner of an election underway in the Granite State. The Boston NBC affiliate I was tuned into was blanketed with ad after ad in the Shaheen-Sununu race. Most were ads (both positive and negative) from the Shaheen camp, a few negative ads from Sununu, and a significant attack from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacking Shaheen on taxes. Somewhat surprisingly, there were also two different ads from Barney Frank in medium rotation. (See the bottom of the post for some of the ads.)
In contrast to Kansas City where I saw very few signs for any candidates when I visited last week, New Hampshire is covered in signs. Unlike the polls, the sign war appeared to be running about even.
Our first stop was the Democratic coordinated campaign HQ in Manchester. We found a very sizable contingent of staff and volunteers who were energized and ready to go. There were even a few volunteers already manning the phones at 10:30 in the morning. Yesterday was the last day of persuasion and today the Democrats will begin ramping up their turnout operation.
We next ventured to Concord where an overflow crowd Sierra Club members packed into the Club's downtown office to hear Carl and Cathy speak and share some pizza. We were excited about such a great turnout for a hastily arranged brownbag session on a rainy Tuesday. The gathering was further energized by a visit from New Hampshire State Senate President Sylvia Larsen and a late-breaking call to Carl from Gov. Shaheen herself.
Following the remarks, the attendees eagerly signed up for GOTV shifts. The crowd is but a leading indicator of the amazing GOTV operation about to be unleashed on the Granite State. The Sierra Club alone is prepared to mobilize over 500 volunteers over the next week. The Obama campaign is said to be ready to call on several thousand more volunteers who are ready to turn the Granite State blue once-and-for all. This kind of mobilization is nothing short of amazing in a small state like New Hampshire.
The extent of McCain's national collapse is all too evident in the Granite State. McCain won both the 2000 and 2008 primaries and basically lived in the state in 2007 after his free-spending, overly presumptive campaign collapsed under the weight of his positions on immigration and Iraq. Yet, RealClearPolitics now has Obama posting a whopping 12.6 point lead!
Granite Staters also seem to have grown quite weary of their junior senator and have embraced the progressive policies of Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu bested Shaheen 51-46 in 2002, but has been down in the polls since Shaheen threw down for a rematch. RealClearPolitics shows Shaheen ahead by 8.6 points.
New Hampshire did its part for Kerry in 2004 (the only Bush 2000 state to switch sides), but a late surge in 2002 thwarted Shaheen. In 2008, an engaged, excited, and well-organized army of Granite Staters are now poised to put all the progressive candidates over the top.
1. A nice positive Shaheen spot featuring the hyper-popular Gov. John Lynch:
2. A couple hits on Sununu from Shaheen:
3. A contrast/hit on Shaheen from Sununu (the look of which indicates he may have the same media consultant as McCain):
Here's some of the ads in the Senate race: