- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2020

New Hampshire is the undisputed center of the political universe for the next 48 hours: President Trump journeys to the Granite State on Monday for a jumbo campaign rally, and Vice President Mike Pence hosts a “Cops for Trump” event just down the road. The state’s trademark first-in-the-nation presidential primary follows on Tuesday. Citizens and officials alike are stoked — and determined to stage a picture perfect voting process, in contrast to Iowa’s recent caucus confusion.

Democratic presidential hopefuls are crisscrossing the state, each seeking that elusive make-or-break moment that could win them favor, votes and a 4 percentage point lead in the race. All are under a media microscope. Major news organizations, in fact, are taking turns broadcasting from places like the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, where the Trump Tower Burger reigns supreme. (For the curious, this noteworthy menu item consists of a hefty hamburger placed between two grilled cheese sandwiches, topped with fried macaroni and cheese plus cheese sauce, served with fries and priced at $15.25.)

Predictions are plenty.

“Undecided voters will likely reject what’s inspiring in favor of what’s familiar,” Wayne Lesperance, vice president of academic affairs at New England College, told the Union Leader.

“As they prepare to vote, are they really looking for a candidate who is a radical departure from the past or are they tired and just looking for somebody from the past they know and think they can trust?” asked Mr. Lesperance.



Our old friend “Deep Woods” — a veteran political observer who indeed lives in the Northeast woods and offers terse insight from time to time — has a thought or two.

“Mr. and Mrs. Woods can’t wait to vote in the primary. Not only do we have to show an I.D. twice, we have been assured by our election officials that their pencils are unhackable,” observes Mr. Woods.

Indeed, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner recently had advice for those who might favor Iowa-style high tech voting.

“The voter marks the ballot with a pen or pencil. You can’t hack a pencil,” Mr. Gardner advised the public.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Americans appear to be only so-so about the amplified role of Iowa and New Hampshire in the presidential race. An Economist/YouGov poll reveals all. The survey found that 36% said the two states have “too much influence” on who wins party nominations for president; 29% of Republicans, 33 % of independents and 45% of Democrats agree.

Another 36% are not sure about the issue; that includes 35% of Republicans, 42% of independents and 29% of Democrats agree.

The survey also found that 24% say the two states have the “right amount” of influence; that includes 32% of Republicans, 20% of independents and 23% of Democrats agree. Another 4% say the states “don’t have enough influence” on the process; 4% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 3% of Democrats agree.

The poll of 1,500 U.S. adults was conducted Feb. 2-4.

THE BILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION

Can money buy happiness? More importantly, can money buy the White House? An astute analysis of campaign data by Axios reveals that Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg spent $188.4 million on his campaign in the last three months of 2019 — more than the top five 2020 contenders combined. The group includes President Trump, and they collectively spent $167.5 million in the final quarter of the year.

Mr. Bloomberg also dropped $310.4 million on digital advertising in the same time period; his aforementioned competition spent $115.3 million combined. In addition, Mr. Bloomberg has 2,100 paid campaign staff, which is three times as many as Mr. Trump and five times as many as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

But here’s the billion-dollar question.

“Can Bloomberg buy it?” asks Scott Johnson, a Powerline.com analyst. “Now seeking to conform his views to the Democrats’ worldview, Bloomberg should find it difficult to expand his appeal. Bloomberg seems to present the ultimate test case on the power of money in politics.”

MAGA MOMENT

The red MAGA hat — a cultural and political icon so beloved among fans of President Trump — has taken on a new role. It has become a durable neighborhood symbol to display on mailboxes, flagpoles or fences. New to the market, it’s the “MAGA Mailbox Mascot.” The bright red, molded plastic hats have a solar-powered lantern set behind cut-out letters spelling “TRUMP.” Yes, it lights up.

“We wanted to produce something different that supports our president, and is also something eye-catching and fun and certainly a topic of conversation,” Jon Hall, the Massachusetts-based craftsman behind the effort, told The Washington Times.

“The response has been great. The mascots mount with a magnetic base. People want to put them on their flagpoles, fence posts and other spots. But they’re not recommended for cars or trucks. The magnet has a four-pound pull and can’t handle and highway speeds. We definitely don’t want these going airborne,” Mr. Hall said.

“We started the design over six months ago, made a few prototypes with a 3 D printer and then the two-cavity mold which allows us to produce the hats in much larger quantities,” he said. “And we’re doing it proudly in the USA. It’s great to see raw materials being converted into a product in an American factory.”

The Mailbox Mascots are priced at $20 and are available at MailboxMascots.com.

POLL DU JOUR

38% of Americans are paying “a lot of attention” to the 2020 presidential election campaign; 37% of Republicans, 32% of independents and 46% of Democrats agree.

28% say they are paying “some attention” to the campaign; 33% of Republicans, 24% of independents and 29% of Democrats agree.

21% say they are paying “only a little attention” to the campaign; 23% of Republicans, 23% of independents and 19% of Democrats agree.

12% say they are paying no attention to the campaign; 6% of Republicans, 21% of independents and 6% of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults was conducted Feb. 2-4.

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