The Union Leader is at cross-purposes with itself.
On the one hand, Joe W. McQuaid, and by extension the Union Leader (which is merely an extension of McQuaid) has gone to war with Fox News and the RNC over the GOP debates, which McQuaid sees as a threat to the influence he thinks he should wield over the primary. This from Howard Kurtz in 1999, when he was still with the Washington Post:
All the candidates felt compelled to court McQuaid. Bush and his wife, Laura, had dinner last summer with McQuaid and his wife, Signe, who worked for Pat Buchanan in the last two campaigns. But McQuaid finds the Texas governor “programmed” and lacking “any great passion for conservative beliefs.” The paper refers to him sneeringly as “Junior Bush.”
The Union Leader has lots more competition these days–from WMUR-TV, cable, the Internet and smaller newspapers that have launched Sunday editions–but McQuaid says it hasn’t lost its hold on rank-and-file Republicans.
“The Union Leader’s style is we don’t just endorse once,” McQuaid says. “We endorse every damn day. We started endorsing Reagan in 1975 and never stopped.”
As for McQuaid’s war-on-Fox, I’ve discussed that at length, so I’ll cut and paste a snippet from a prior post:
Some local press, particularly the Union Leader, have been apoplectic and apocalyptic about the RNC’s decision to limit the number of GOP debates, and the criteria for those debates.
For example, I posted this just prior to the Fox Business Channel Debate in response to a Union Leader editorial asserting that Fox News and the RNC were trying to “kill” the New Hampshire primary:
Suggestion to the Union Leader: quit while you’e behind (before you fall even further behind).
This summer, the Union Leader decided to pick a fight with Fox News over its decision to split the first GOP debate into two groups based on national polling numbers. The Union Leader ended up looking very foolish when the Fox News debate was watched by a record number of viewers and was universally acclaimed. …
While the Union Leader is portraying itself as the protector of the New Hampshire primary, its real beef is that it is being supplanted in the process of winnowing candidates by Fox.
In addition to charging that Fox News was trying to “kill” the New Hampshire primary, the Union Leader editorial demanded that New Hampshire polls, as opposed to national polls, be used to determine which candidates would qualify for the GOP debates. More from that post:
The Fox Business Channel debate was a serious, substantive debate, but that hasn’t stopped the Union Leader’s caterwauling. Earlier this week, it called upon candidates to boycott the next GOP debate unless the debate format is to the Union Leader’s liking:
That criteria should be based on candidates having viable campaigns in Iowa and here in New Hampshire. If polling is included, it should be strictly polling from those two states. If a sufficient number of candidates qualify, then names should be drawn by lot and two equal debates should ensue.
Candidates should insist on these changes, and not just say they are at the mercy of the networks and their party. If the changes are not made well before their December CNN debate, candidates who care about New Hampshire’s part in the process should refuse to participate. Granite State voters should expect no less.
Well the Union Leader has gotten its wish, to some extent, as CNN, which hosts the next GOP debate, will use local polling as an additional qualifier:
Candidates can qualify for the debate through one of three ways: polling averages nationally, in Iowa, and in New Hampshire.
While every previous debate has only used national polling, candidates who average at least 4 percent in either Iowa or New Hampshire polls will make the stage in Las Vegas, according to the standards CNN released Friday. Candidates who average at least 3.5 percent in national polls between Oct. 29 and Dec. 13 will also qualify.
This new criteria, local polling, would increase the number of candidates in the main debate from the eight who participated in the Fox Business Channel debate to nine.
While the Union Leader has been apoplectic over the national press supplanting its perceived role as Kingmaker, it also has been apoplectic over Donald Trump’s candidacy. Check out this derisive editorial the Union Leader ran after Trump’s comment that McCain was a war hero “because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured …”, which caused Trump to decline to participate in the Union Leader’s “Voter’s First Forum.”
… If that weren’t unheroic enough, McCain cowardly failed to use his one good leg to escape the enemy. Clearly a real hero would have hopped out of Hanoi, guns blazing, like a killer Easter Bunny. But not that wimp McCain.
At the Hanoi Hilton (a real American would’ve insisted on an upgrade), McCain’s captors offered to release him because he was an admiral’s son. But — on July 4, no less — he refused, demanding the release of other Americans first. He chose instead to kick back and enjoy nearly five more years of torture and solitary confinement in a filthy, hot, windowless cell. In 5 1/2 years, he never broke, never gave in, never asked for special treatment. What a wuss. …
Here is the current Real Clear Politics average of polls for New Hampshire:
As I demonstrated previously, the New Hampshire GOP is around 55 percent to 60 percent “establishment” and 40 percent to 45 percent non-establishment.
It’s fair to say that while the non-establishment vote (which is eclectic) is split between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Rand Paul, Trump has the support of the majority of the non-establishment, putting him at approximately 27 percent.
On the other hand, the establishment vote is being split more evenly between Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie, so there is no clear “establishment alternative” to Trump, in the sense of one candidate who can beat Trump. Rubio is the closest, but he’s still behind Trump by a two to one margin.
Having a larger field in the CNN debate helps Trump because it prevents, or at least makes more difficult, an “establishment alternative” from emerging.
In other words, if you are Trump and you are anticipating pulling approximately 30 percent of the vote, you don’t want the establishment vote to similarly coalesce behind Rubio because you will lose.
So the CNN debate, by adding local polling and expanding the number of candidates on stage, helps Trump in the New Hampshire primary because it will help maintain the status quo where the establishment vote is more diffused than the non-establishment vote.
As far as the Union Leader is concerned, the use of local polling is a circumstance where, be careful what you wish for because you might get it. While it may help the Union Leader maintain some of its diminishing influence, Trump winning the New Hampshire primary wold be much more significant than, for example, Jeb Bush finishing at 10 percent rather than 7.5 percent.