Running Backwards in New England

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 13:18:36 +0000

Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts was but the first of a number of interesting contests in New England this year.  Likely to rise to prominence over the spring and summer is the contest to succeed Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.  Current Representative Paul Hodes is unopposed on the Democratic side of the ballot, and former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte will likely emerge from the herd of Republicans.  Here is how my very local paper reported on it today:

Hodes currently trails Ayotte by 9 percentage points but beats both Binnie and Lamontagne in one-on-one match-ups, according to the poll.

Mark Bergman, communications director for the Hodes campaign, said the polling numbers do not change Hodes’ campaign strategy.

“This election is going to be about choice,” Bergman said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “The Republicans all support the same failed economic agenda of [former President] George W. Bush that would return us to the failed policies that got us into this [economic crisis].”

<!--break-->

In my humble opinion, Hodes is going to have to up his game (and change his communications strategy) if he wants to close that gap.  Running against an unpopular Republican President may have made sense in 2006 and 2008, but it makes him look silly in 2010.  He is going to have to run on his own -- and President Obama's own -- record, particularly against an opponent who is locally well respected and has no visible connection to the national Republican apparatus.