Monday, January 2, 2012

1st In the Nation Primary

One of the great joys of being political junkie and New Hampshireite is, of course, the cyclical spectacle that is the nation’s first presidential primary. I had expected that much of 2011 would have been spent talking in events and using this space for some eyes-on observations of contenders and characters vying to be our next president.

But. As it turns out... not so much... I didn’t manage attend a single town hall, didn’t hear any stump speeches, didn’t have a  single candidate sighting. This outcome stems in no small part from the fact that my focus and attention have been directed elsewhere. But also reflects the nature of the campaign.

My natural loyalties tend towards the Democrats and I love me some Obama. I’ll happy vote for his renomination and would even if there was competition - which there isn’t. No drama there.

The Republican nomination battle has been a wonderful show. I’ve been following the ebbs and flows of that contest with a mixture of schadenfreude and slack-jawed amazement. But even there the action hasn’t been in New Hampshire. My Granite State perch hasn’t improved the view.

Normally, in a contest this open I would expect something of an ongoing carnival atmosphere. Battling visibility events, a town square occupied with supporters from different camps, phones constantly ringing with campaign calls and pollsters, and lots of candidates coming to town are all part a robust campaign season. Not this year.

There have been a few appearances by candidates and near-candidates. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump both popped into the gourmet goodies shop beneath my office during their flirtation phases. A visiting Parisian relative happened upon Rick Perry offering up his ignorance of evolution during a downtown stop. Yard signs have popped up most everywhere. But the season’s been relatively quiet.

Perhaps this is as it should be. The unfair influence of the New Hampshire is an regular complaint. This time the campaigns have been national affairs from the start. The fortunes of the candidates have been tied the televised debates and, more importantly, the post-debate media-spin, and the blogospheric reaction. The rise of Herman Cain certainly had nothing to do a great ground operation. Gingrich's flame-out was unrelated the efforts of local organizers.

I’m a fan of the traditional first ballots cast by the good citizen’s of Iowa and New Hampshire. More than ever, it appears we’ll just be the first to ratify decisions that have already been made by the parties as a whole.

Soon it'll be all over. It feels like it never really begun.

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