Neglect for Howard Dean Country?

In order for Howard Dean to win the 2004 Democratic primary, he needed to roll up big margins in the communities near the Vermont border and come reasonably close to John Kerry in cities and towns near the Massachusetts border. As the map below shows, he failed to do so. He came tantalizingly close to getting a 500-vote margin in the college town of Hanover (1,499 votes to Kerry’s 1,010), but was far short of this goal in Keene and Lebanon. Kerry, meanwhile, took the city of Nashua by more than 3,000 votes (6,178 to 2,694), which made his losses in the western part of the state of little consequence.

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A look at the Democratic candidates’ schedules for the three days before the New Hampshire primary shows that Hillary Clinton, in particular, may be trying to duplicate Kerry’s southern strategy. She has appearances planned in Dover, Nashua, and Salem, or three of the four places where Kerry received margins of at least 1,000 votes. Curiously, there are no rallies planned in the fourth city, Manchester (the state’s largest), but Clinton will be there to participate in a televised debate tonight, and her election night party will be at her Manchester headquarters, so she’s clearly not neglecting the city. Obama and Edwards are also each making appearances in Kerry strongholds. (Edwards is in Dover and Manchester, and wife Elizabeth in in Nashua, while Obama is in all but Dover.)

And what of "Dean Country"? Clinton seems to have little interest in appearing there. Dean won seven communities by at least 100 votes, but Clinton has none on her agenda, and no candidate has stops in more than two of them. Edwards is in Keene and Lebanon, and Bill Richardson (a distant fourth in the polls) is in Hanover and Keene. Will one or both be able to make a surprisingly strong showing on Tuesday based on their efforts in the west? Maybe, but Obama isn’t completely ceding the region that has historically backed "change" candidates (including Dean, Bill Bradley, and Gary Hart). He has a rally at Keene High School on Sunday night.

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