`Finish in the top three or die.’ On Rick Perry and the New Hampshire primary

Mike Dennehy, far left, in Merrimack, N.H., July 4.

Mike Dennehy, far left, in Merrimack, N.H., July 4.

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Rick Perry has a contemplative moment before the start of the Merrimack, NH, Fourth of July Parade with Lincoln, a campaign intern’s Goldendoodle, so named because he is the color of a shiny new penny. At far left is Mike Dennehy, who is running the Perry campaign in New Hampshire.

 

 

Good day Austin:

Want to know the state of the race in new Hampshire, in one multi-color chart?

Here it is, the net favorability ratings of 19 actual and potential Republican candidates for president from the most recent CNN/WMUR poll conducted June 18 – 24 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

 

THE CNN/WMUR NH PRIMARY POLL THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW  HAMPSHIRE

THE CNN/WMUR NH PRIMARY POLL
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE

 

Hard to make out what’s going on here?

Well then check out this chart with the horse-race numbers.

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

If the general impression is no clear impression, that’s pretty much on target.

UNH political scientist Andrew Smith, who conducts the poll, warned against reading too much into it, especially the horse-race numbers. New Hampshire voters, perhaps the most serious and sophisticated and important voters in America, take their responsibility seriously. With such a big field and so many months of intensive candidate presence and attention ahead, there is very little reason to commit early.

From the commentary with the survey:

New Hampshire primary voters usually decide who they will vote for in the last weeks, or days of the campaign and it is no surprise that very few likely Republican primary voters have made up their minds about who they will support in 2016. Currently, only 8% of likely Republican Primary voters say they have definitely decided who they will support, 17% are leaning toward a candidate, and 75% are still trying to decide.

My main takeaway from the two charts is that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has had extreme ups and downs, but the overall trend line is down, down, down.

Also, that Donald Trump has gone from widely reviled to mildly reviled, and that even though he is now running second behind Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, that doesn’t mean that most likely Republican voters in New Hampshire like him.

Nonetheless, Trump’s flamboyant entry into the race, and incendiary comments on Mexican immigrants, seem to have markedly improved his standing

Here is Trump’s dramatic rise to the point where his net favorability is only minus-10 percent.

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE

Here, in an easier-to-take-in form, are the favorability ratings for each of the candidates.

THE CNN/WMUR NH PRIMARY POLL THE  UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

THE CNN/WMUR NH PRIMARY POLL THE
UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

And here are the first and second choices of likely Republican primary voters.

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As you can see, the two Texans – Rick Perry and Ted Cruz –  are running neck-and-neck, well back, ninth and tenth.

Cruz got a big positive surge when he was the first candidate to declare his candidacy. But his unfavorability has climbed since then, and now he has net plus-one percent favorability.

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE

Meanwhile, Perry’s numbers have fluctuated a bit but remain modestly positive, and improving of late. He is net plus-12 percent, though his favorability peaked last October when he was riding high with a plus-28 percent favorability.

 

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE

I have to assume that Perry’s October 2014 surge reflects two events in the summer of 2014 – his dispatching the National Guard to the border, and his indictment by a Travis County grand jury, both of which enhanced his image for Republicans as a tough, stand-up guy.

While the warm glow of his indictment has probably faded, it appears that his sending the Guard to the border has had some lasting impact. As of late June, he was rated the candidate best able to handle illegal immigration.

 

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THE CNN/WMUR,NH PRIMARY POLL THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

I spent July Fourth weekend in New Hampshire following Perry, who marched in two parades and spoke at two cookouts. He acquitted himself quite well.

Here are the first eight minutes of his stump  speech, delivered at a July Fourth barbecue sponsored by the Windham Republican Town Committee.

 

In between the Amherst and Merrimack parades he told me what he needs to do.

We need to be in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire and we need to win South Carolina. We know what we need to do.

That’s a tall order, bluntly stated. But getting elected president is a tall order, and if Perry can’t meet those self-imposed goals, he’s probably not going to make it.

Cruz has a little bit more flexibility because he’s got a more clearly defined niche and a lot more money in the bank.

Cruz has reported raising $14.2 million through June 30, while Super PACs supporting him have said they have raised more than $37 million, for a total of more than $51 million.

Perry has reported raising $1.07 million, plus $16.8 million in Super PAC money, for just under $18 million.

In interesting ways, Perry and Cruz are offering very different approaches, which may give Perry an edge in New Hampshire and Cruz an advantage in Iowa, where right now he is far more likely to finish in the top three than Perry.

Here are the results of the most recent Quinnipiac University Iowa poll.

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll. June 20-29.

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll. June 20-29.

According to the Quinnipiac Poll, both Perry and Cruz are very well liked in Iowa.

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll

The big difference between New Hampshire and Iowa is that Iowa is a caucus state, which puts a premium on activists and gives the state’s large conservative evangelical community particularly outsized influence.

By contrast, according to Gallup, New Hampshire is the second least religious state in the nation, after Vermont, and that, said Smith, “only because they don’t count Wiccans.”

Also, while there is the sense among some of the New Hampshire folks I met that the Live Free or Die state is kind of Texas’ little brother, the gravitational pull of New Hampshire politics is actually quite the opposite of that in Texas.

 

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Rep. David Bates, head of the Windham, N.H., Republican Town Committee, which hosted Perry at a July fourth barbecue.

For example, Rep. David Bates, the head of the Windham, N.H, Republican Town Committee, which hosted the barbecue for Perry on July Fourth, said that Windham may be the most Republican spot in New Hampshire. But New Hampshire has gone from being a historically Republican state to a very competitive purple state that can swing back and forth between the parties from one election to the next.

The state is now a “coin toss,” and, with independents outnumbering Republicans or Democrats, Bates said, “Everybody’s always focused on the unenrolled because they’re the biggest bloc of voters, so (candidates) are always playing to the middle. It doesn’t work if you go too hard left or right in New Hampshire. You can do that in local races but not in state and federal races.”

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That far better fits the Perry than Cruz approach in 2015. Cruz is following the Texas template of rallying the base. He attributes Obama’s victories to insufficient conservative enthusiasm for John McCain and Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Perry, whose appeal to social conservatives has been and continues to be important to his appeal, is focusing on the economy and foreign affairs/national defense this time out.

But it can be delicate terrain for Perry to tread.

At a July 3 appearance at a lakefront cookout in Derry, he was asked in the Q-and-A whether the party’s platform should address issues that “the ultra-right are upset about.”

The questioner was Betty Gay, a Beaumont, Texas, native, who has been living the last 44 years in New Hampshire. Afterward Gay explained, of her question, that her concern is that the Republican Party alienating voters with its hard line against abortion and same-sex marriage and what she viewed as impractical resistance to Supreme Court decisions.

“A very close member of my family drove me crazy, voted for Obama twice and it just made me sick, but the reason is she had lots of gay friends and Republican just went out and talked about how bad gay people were, in so many words, and so she wouldn’t do it because it was very deeply personal to her, just as I think abortion is a deeply personal thing,” Gay said.

In response to Gay’s question, Perry launched into a five-minute response, which began with him saying that, as he campaigns, what he hears people talking about is the economy and job creation. He talked about his record securing the border, deploying the National Guard, strategic fencing, aviation assets, eliminating ISIS “from the face of the Earth,” approving the Keystone XL pipleline his first day in the White House, developing North American energy resources, reducing the cost of electricity, managing the world’s 12th largest economy, lowering corporate tax rates, igniting a manufacturing renaissance,  and how “every blue-collar union worker in this country ought to stand up and say, `Perry, I’m voting for you because you are going to raise my salary.'”

Having not directly answered Gay’s question, the next questioner asked Perry about state’s rights, and, returning to Gay’s concern, Perry said:

I agree with those four justices that were on the losing side (of the gay marriage case), but  the fact is we’re a rule-of-law country and they make decisions up there from time to time I don’t agree with. But we are a country of rules and laws and if we get away from that, we’ve lost everything that we have.

“He sort of didn’t answer it until the very end,” Gay said of Perry’s answer to her question.

“He finally got to the answer that we’re a nation of laws, so I thought that was the answer, but I got the impression that he didn’t really want to say it’s a non-issue.”

Gay found Perry’s answer satisfactory, and otherwise, she quite liked everything else about Perry.

“I’m still listening to all the candidates,” Gay said. “I would love it if he turns out to be the candidate. I would love it. I think he’s a very respectful, intelligent, capable, charming person.”

“I’m looking for someone who can unite the country, who is not going to go Bible-thumping, I feel I’m as good a Christian as anybody else, which means we’re all sinners,” Gay said.

“He says all the right things,” Gay said. But “if he waffles” on his rule-of-law answer, she will find another someone else.

Rick Perry. The Fourth of July. Windham, N.H.

Rick Perry. The Fourth of July. Windham, N.H.

Trump’s swift rise is, for the moment, a peril, albeit of a different sort, for both Perry and Cruz.

For Perry, who has been very critical of Trump’s comments on Mexican immigrants, Trump threatens his claim to the immigration/border issue.

For Cruz, who has had only kind words for Trump, Trump threatens Cruz’s status as the angry voter’s preferred candidate, though I find it a little hard to imagine Evangelicals for Trump.

For both Cruz and Perry also, Trump’s presence means there is one less space available on the Aug. 6 debate stage in Cleveland, site of the first Republican presidential debate, which the sponsor Fox has limited to the top ten candidates in national polls.

 

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Texting while marching in the Amherst, N.H., Fourth of July parade.

If both Cruz and Perry manage to survive Iowa and New Hampshire and compete in the South Carolina primary, they may also draw support there from opposite sides in the debate over removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.

Perry supported Gov. Nikki Haley’s leadership in taking the flag down, calling it an “act of healing and unity.”

But, as Katie Glueck reported in Politico:

Cruz has methodically built a roster of state leaders to help him fire up social conservatives in the South. He may have gotten more than he bargained for.

In the last month alone, three of his state co-chairs have drawn fire over comments related to everything from Sharia law to the victims of the African-American church shooting in Charleston, S.C. That dynamic was thrown into sharp relief in recent weeks, as the debate in South Carolina unfolded over whether to take down the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.

 One state co-chair said the victims of the Charleston shooting “waited their turn to be shot.” Another has emerged as the voice of the opposition to removing the rebel flag from the statehouse, likening that effort to a “Stalinist purge.” Separately, in Tennessee, his state chairman had once accused a Muslim state appointee of being a “Shariah compliant finance expert,” a comment that sparked outrage in some corners when he was tapped for the position with Cruz in early June.

When asked about his surrogates’ inflammatory comments, the Cruz campaign had their backs.

 

perrybunny

“That’s a big rabbit,” said Perry, referring to Carol L’Heureux’s not nearly full-grown Giant Flemish, who he encountered while marching in Merrimack, N.H.’s Fourth of July parade.

 

Perry discloses personal finances

From the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek and Jay Root:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is reporting income of $250,000 from the company of top donor Peter Holt, helping boost the Republican presidential candidate’s family income past $700,000 over the last 18 months, new disclosures reveal.

The “consulting income” from Holt Texas Ltd., known commercially as Holt Cat, was included on his latest personal financial disclosure that all presidential candidates have to file.

Perry also reported retirement income of $130,882 stemming from his long service in state government. Perry had begun drawing his pension before leaving office, stirring controversy and eventually leading the Legislature to close the loophole that allowed him to double dip.

He reported state income, stemming from his salary as governor, of $133,215.

Elsewhere, Perry reported $96,000 in honorariums for speeches he gave during the last week of April. According to the disclosure, he was paid to address the Asian American Hotel Owners Association in Long Beach, Calif.; Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio; and Microsoft in Houston. 

Perry signs a Democrat's cast at the Amherst, N.H., Fourth of July parade.

Perry signs a Democrat’s cast at the Amherst, N.H., Fourth of July parade.

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