Just in case you think Democrats are talking through their hats when they predict a “blue wave” in November, let me give you a peek at my state’s 2018 recent Congressional primary. I admit that New Hampshire is a small sample size. This is a cautionary tale, not a prediction of anyone’s “wave.”
Our entire current federal delegation – two Senators and two Members of Congress – is Democratic. Republican challengers for New Hampshire’s two Congressional districts are in place after a pair of fiercely-contested primaries. They are now working to replace Democrats in a state where independents make up 40% of the electorate, state Democrats just shattered their own record for number of primary ballots cast, and where in 2016 Donald Trump finished behind Hillary Clinton.
The state’s chief election official, whose predictions about turnout are usually on target, had estimated that 90,000 Democratic ballots would be cast in the September primary. Actual number was over 126,000, which includes a substantial number of primary-day registrants. The number of GOP ballots cast – around 100,000 – looked anemic by comparison.
So much for this being an off-year election. New Hampshire Democrats showed in the primary that they are fired up. They want to hang on to those two seats in Congress. It’ll take fired-up Republicans and allied independents – local ones – to rise to the challenge.
The Granite State Republican congressional candidates proved themselves to be effective grassroots campaigners in highly competitive primaries. They’re not burdened with complacency. That’s one reason why I think that the startling number of Democratic ballots in the primary looks more like reason for caution than reason for panic.
That’s the view from one small district. How was primary turnout in your area?
Ellen is a New Hampshire writer who blogs about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf.
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