EI fellow predicts eroding support for Romney in NH primary

Political expert Jennifer Donahue, Cardin Fellow of Public Policy at Gettysburg College’s Eisenhower Institute, predicts that despite strong numbers heading into this week’s primary, support for presidential candidate Mitt Romney will erode in New Hampshire.

“It’s a tall order to beat Romney, but I will say that they will whittle him down. And that’s the intent of every one of them,” said Donahue of the other GOP candidates on the Jan. 4 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews. “I think you’re going to see Romney’s numbers fall to earth.”

When asked further about Romney’s strong polling numbers, she continued, “This is an unpredictable state. You’re going to see a lot of people who are Democrats, who are registered Independents, pick up ballots for the Republican ticket, and vote for Huntsman, and vote for Paul. They are going to send a message. New Hampshire always sends a message.”

Additionally, Donahue confirmed the possible influence of a large number of former Massachusetts residents now living in New Hampshire.

“[There] are people who moved out of Massachusetts because of Romneycare and because they’re Tea Party voters, and they don’t like the way Massachusetts was being governed under Mitt Romney. So there’s a real protest vote that could develop,” she said.

While Donahue admits that Romney’s reputation as a “fix-it” candidate could serve him well with voters who are concerned about the state of the economy, she also asserts that he has not won over voters concerned about other issues -- a topic she discussed on the Jan. 5 edition of CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.

“Conservatives who care about social issues, and who care about issues other than the economy, just haven’t coalesced around him. He doesn’t seem to have that retail campaign ability that sucks people in, and gets them to look him in the eye and say, ‘I like this man. I want him to be my president.’”

Donahue believes that a lot of undecided conservative voters in New Hampshire may come together in support of Rick Santorum. She says that Santorum is picking up steam in New Hampshire, doing retail campaign events that make a difference. Santorum is working the grassroots and is connecting with voters in New Hampshire, and is in a position to take advantage of the momentum he gained in Iowa.

In addition to her work with the Eisenhower Institute of Gettysburg College, Donahue is a Huffington Post featured contributor, and regularly provides live commentary for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and CNN's American Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. She also appears on ABC’s World News Tonight and Nightline, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News. Donahue has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, USA Today and The Boston Globe.

The Eisenhower Institute is a distinguished center for leadership and public policy that prepares the successor generation to perfect the promise of the nation and honors the legacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Mon, 9 Jan 2012

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