Working for Obama is the state’s history of being in the forefront of women’s issues. It was the first state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (which eventually fell short of full ratification nationally). New Hampshire’s electorate is fiscally conservative but liberal on social issues. It has historically favored abortion rights and in 2010 enacted a law authorizing same-sex marriages.
Obama has made a special effort to reach out to women through advertising and grass-roots organizing. His appeals are reinforced by the symbolism of a state Democratic ticket headed by three women — Maggie Hassan, who is running to succeed the retiring Lynch against Republican Ovide M. Lamontagne; and Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, who are challenging Republican Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass in the two congressional races.
Mitt Romney, however, could get caught in spillover from the state legislature’s conservative agenda after Republican lawmakers pushed a series of anti-abortion measures. Lynch vetoed or threatened to veto most of them. Obama alluded to the legislature in his remarks here, and Republicans acknowledge that it could be a factor in the presidential race.
Romney has many ties to New Hampshire, as a former governor of neighboring Massachusetts and as a summer resident with a home on Lake Winnipesaukee. Romney launched his campaign here in June 2011, and he turned the state into an early firewall in the Republican primary season, romping to victory.
The new presidential nominee then returned to launch his general election campaign. He hasn’t been in the state since September but is expected to visit again to make a final appeal to voters here.
New Hampshire’s role in electoral college calculations is secondary to that of Ohio, Virginia and Florida. But one particular election scenario is telling: If Romney can win those three states, along with North Carolina, he would need only New Hampshire’s four votes to win the White House if other states vote as predicted.
As in many battleground states, the outcome here could most depend on which campaign can turn out the most voters. Obama’s team started early to reassemble its grass-roots operation and now wins praise from state Democrats for that effort.
But Republicans say Romney’s team, in cooperation with the national and state GOP, is far ahead of what Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did here four years ago. “The extent of the organization and voter contact for the Romney folks is just miles ahead of where McCain was,” said Fergus Cullen, a former state Republican Party chairman. “There’s just no comparison.”
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who attended Obama’s rally Thursday, said she believes that the president holds a small lead but that Democrats still have work to do. “It’s going to be close,” she said, “so we need to get people energized, we need to get people out on Election Day.”