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Editorial: In 2012, GOP was out of sync with voters

The New Hampshire election of 2012, like that of 2010, was a pendulum swing strong enough to ring the gong of change. A massive Republican rout that swept more than a few lawmakers with a questionable hold on reality into office was followed just two years later with Tuesday’s vote, which saw Demo-crats retain the governor’s office and regain control of the House.

From the results, you might think New Hampshire was a state with an identity crisis.

But the 2010 election was an aberration. It was less a response to Democrats in the State House than a protest against the terrible economy and the passage of Obamacare. The vote for state offices on Tuesday was a course correction, one amplified by voter reaction to the extreme agenda pursued with a vengeance by House Speaker Bill O’Brien and the antics of a Legislature that became an embarrassment. With luck, voters won’t be forced to correct the course quite so dramatically again.

Republican candidates in 2012 found themselves at odds with mainstream voters. In the governor’s race, Republican Ovide Lamontagne embraced a New Hampshire that disappeared decades ago yet lives on in myth. It is a New Hampshire of rock-ribbed conservatism and parsimony symbolized by the mean-spirited reign of governor Meldrim Thomson and newspaper publisher William Loeb. But New Hampshire is neither a bastion of conservatism nor even a reliably Republican state. It is, and has been, a fiscally conservative, socially liberal state, more small-l libertarian than anything else. Fully 39 percent of New Hampshire’s voters are independents.

Nationally, the Republican Party embraced antiquated and intrusive policies on abortion, the role of religion in politics, and equal rights for women and gays that left New Hampshire’s more tolerant populace behind. To be competitive, the state GOP will have to find a way to differentiate itself from a national party whose agenda has been driven by members from states that appear to be in time zones that differ from ours by a couple of decades.

Nationally, Mitt Romney beat President Obama by a wide margin among whites and older voters. New Hampshire is older and whiter than most states, but the president won handily here. The reason, we believe, is that the state’s residents, like those in most of New England, are better-educated, better off, less religious and more tolerant than their counterparts in most of the nation.

Democrats won eight of the last nine elections for governor and the sole Republican winner, Craig Benson, was ousted after a single term. New Hampshire has been trending Democratic for quite some time. Unless newly elected Democrats overreach, that trend will continue.

"But the 2010 election was an aberration. It was less a response to Democrats in the State House than a protest against the terrible economy and the passage of Obamacare." Wrong! The 2010 NH election was about the democrats ignoring the economy, (plenty of warning) and running up a huge deficit. I dont believe they have learned a thing.

Great letter TTCB. From what I am reading here I agree the left will overstep their common sense and push an agenda that will focus even more on dividing us. This election if anything showed how entrenched that agenda is. Promise the moon and divide the haves from the have nots. Use tactics that state religion is wrong, all conservatives are against women and if you disagree with this adminstrations policies it is because you are racist. It works if folks are uninformed and rely on govt programs. The sensible thing would be compromise so everybody benefits. We manage to get folks out of poverty, we improve our education system, not with money but with solutions as to why it is failing, and we encourage the American Dream as opposed to giving the message that success is evil. There is a common theme out that that folks that have been successful got that success by being greedy. Those folks forget that many immigrants came here and managed to attain the American Dream through hard work, passion and the idea that the US offers choices if you are willing to take them. This talk of compromise is just that talk. This adminstration will be even more strengthened with the idea that their agenda is correct. They have not compromised in the last 4 years. Why would they now?

I am not very wealthy, in fact I have much less than many of the progressives, but, I have realized some success in my career. It took years to get there and proving to people that I will go the extra mile, work extra hours, etc. I did that with a college education which I have never called upon but all employers have required. Success, drive, ambition, goals, etc. used to be honored by society, they used to be respected, admired. Now they are look upon with disdain by people who are simply too lazy to dream, too lazy to be upwardly mobile and people who don't realize that to get to where you want to be, often you have to sacrifice things.

Oh, they will over-reach, here come the red swim caps, helium filled balloons and health care exchanges. The pendulum seldom remains in the same spot. If it does, it signfies that something is permanently broken. The real reason for the Republican defeat was O'Brien and it was a constant drumbeat by media like NHPR and the Monitor who dogged him for the full two years. In some cases, rightfully so. It is also the Republicans stand on abortion. There is middle ground there, supporting a woman's right to choose without supporting late term abortion and standing firm on not funding abortions but heck, many of us would fund them for rape or incest if it was proven to be the case. Women have equal rights, by the way and in my 35 years in my career I have never found women making less than men. I also have been passed over a couple of times because "for EEOC reasons we need to promote a female for that position". In fact, I would be willing to bet that happens at the Monitor, in state employee ranks and all over the place. Should we pay for contraceptives, why not? They are like any other medication? Republicans can find common ground with voters on those principles. As far as the gay rights mention, to be honest, Obama was against gay marriage hmm, before he was for it in this election. Not so antiquated, hey? The you wrote: "a national party whose agenda has been driven by members from states that appear to be in time zones that differ from ours by a couple of decades" In the next breath you talk about 'tolerance: 'that the state’s residents, like those in most of New England, are better-educated, better off, less religious and more tolerant than their counterparts in most of the nation. A couple of points here, you don't sound too 'tolerant' of those folks "in time zones that differ from ours by a couple of decades". You also sound intolerant of "religion". You are elitist and arrogant in assuming that in New England that we are so 'above' the rest of the unenlightened below us in other parts of the country. It speaks volumes of how high you feel about your enlightenment and how self congratulatory you are that you have arrived at a higher level of consciousness. Stunningly arrogant. Stunningly pompous. Being "highly eduated" myself, I understand that your agenda trumps your common sense but obviously, your emotional intelligence pats you on your back and tells you how superior you are. Maybe you should take a good long look at yourself in the mirror and maybe, just maybe with a little intellectually honest, soul searching, you will realize that you too are just a human being with an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.

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