In the 2010 election the New Hampshire Republican party took 298 out of 400 house seats, 19 out of 24 state-senate seats, and all five seats on the executive council. A little over a year later, in the state’s presidential primary, the same (more or less) electorate gave over 56 percent of its votes to a couple of moneyed “moderates,” one of whom served in the Obama administration and the other of whom left no trace in office other than the pilot program for Obamacare. Another 23 percent voted for Ron Paul. Supporters of the three other “major” candidates in the race argue that, if only the other two fellows would clear off, a viable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney would emerge. In fact, even if you combine Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum’s share of the vote, it adds up to a mere 19.5 percent: Were Bain Capital to come in and restructure the “conservative” candidates into one streamlined and efficient Newt Perrtorum, this unstoppable force would be competitive with Jon Huntsman.
According to George Mason University’s annual survey of freedom in the 50 states, New Hampshire is the freest state in the union, so one would expect there to be takers for Ron Paul’s message. On the other hand, facing a very different electorate in Iowa, Paul pulled pretty much an identical share of the poll. It may be time for those of us on the right to consider whether it’s not so much the conservative vote that’s split but whether conservatism itself is fracturing.
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