Here's the possible fly in the ointment of the Idaho GOP's plan to lure GOP presidential contenders to Idaho with a Jan. 6 Republican straw poll: That's the Friday before the Tuesday that's likely to be the New Hampshire GOP primary, the much-watched small-state contest that's been the first presidential primary in the nation since the 1920s. This year, it's likely to be on Jan. 10th. “My first impression was wow, that's really squeezing up against the New Hampshire primary,” said Boise State University political scientist Gary Moncrief.
New Hampshire prides itself on drawing all the candidates for a marathon of face-to-face campaigning to residents of the small state. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner said in a statement, “We have the largest turnout in the country, and our citizens take their roles and obligations seriously.” As a result, after the Iowa caucuses, presidential candidates generally head straight to New Hampshire, clear on the far side of the country from Idaho, and stay there until the primary.
However, Moncrief noted that New Hampshire's is an open primary in which moderate Republicans tend to do well, as opposed to Iowa's GOP caucus, which is dominated by conservatives. “Usually when you have a big field like this, some candidates kind of focus on Iowa, some focus on New Hampshire, and some focus on Florida or Nevada,” he said. “So there may very well be some candidates, especially some very conservative candidates, who feel New Hampshire isn't the right venue for them, so they might actually come to Idaho. That seems like it's possible.” That's unlikely to include the front-runners, however, he said; they'll want to make a mark in the high-profile New Hampshire vote. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.