Rhode Islanders joining the Obama-Romney fight in New Hampshire

Oct 22, 2012

New Hampshire has just four electoral votes — the same puny number as Rhode Island. Yet the neck-and-neck race between President Obama and Mitt Romney has sparked a situation in which the Granite State, as Politico noted, could punch above its weight in presidential politics.

New Hampshire offers the closest opportunity for Ocean State partisans who want to get involved in Romney-Obama race beyond writing a check.

The president’s RI campaign is running local phone banks, and sending volunteers to New Hampshire. The RI GOP, meanwhile, is marshaling support for a “Romney Super Saturday Bus Trip” on October 27. It’s also helping to open a Romney office in Rhode Island, possibly as soon as today, and using truck signs to promote visibility for the GOP cause, says party chairman Mark Zaccaria.

Once a reliably Republican state, New Hampshire has become less predictable, thanks in part to the emergence of its southern flank as part of the Boston exurbs. NH twice voted for Bill Clinton, backed George W. Bush in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008.

RIPR has learned that the number of Rhode Island volunteers who went to NH on the president’s behalf this past weekend topped 100 shifts; a more precise number wasn’t available.  The Obama campaign sent its own solicitation for Rhode Islanders to door knock in the Granite State next Sunday.

While the candidates are virtually tied in some combinations of national polls, 538 still gives Obama a 67.6 percent chance of winning.

On Friday, 538′s Nate Silver wrote about NH’s growing importance as a Democratic firewall, adding that the president has “a tiny although much diminished advantage” there.

Because New Hampshire has only four electoral votes . . . .  it comes into play only under relatively specific conditions. Were Mr. Obama to lose Wisconsin, for instance, while winning Ohio, Iowa and Nevada, also winning New Hampshire would give him 271 electoral votes. (In some other plausible scenarios, winning New Hampshire would only give Mr. Obama a 269-269 tie, which would probably go for Mr. Romney in the House of Representatives.)

So if you’re a Rhode Islander who wants to get involved in supporting Mitt Romney or Barack Obama in a key battleground, it’s not too late.

As far as an impactful presidential contest in Rhode Island, we probably won’t see the likes of 2008 for some time.