---- — New Hampshire residents are accustomed to being the center of the political world’s attention during the presidential primary season. This year, it seems, we’ll have to endure the scrutiny all the way to the November election.
With a close race on tap between Republican challenger Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama, every vote counts. Just a handful of swing states could determine the outcome of the election — and New Hampshire is one of them. This year, even the Granite State’s paltry four electoral votes are worth fighting for.
Recent polls show Obama and Romney locked in a statistical dead heat in New Hampshire, fighting to win enough currently undecided voters to carry the state. That means New Hampshire will be seeing a lot of the candidates or their representatives this summer and fall.
President Obama is expected in the Granite State Saturday but the stops on his campaign visit have yet to be determined. The campaign stop will be the president’s second visit to New Hampshire this year. First Lady Michelle Obama also made a campaign visit to the state Aug. 2
Harrell Kirstein, Obama’s spokesman in New Hampshire, told reporter Doug Ireland the campaign is ramping up its efforts in the Granite State, expecting a tight race.
“Our campaign continues to focus on talking to voters one by one about the clear choice in this election between President Obama’s vision to create jobs, reclaim security for the middle class and restore the basic values that make our country great,” Kirstein said.
Romney’s campaign held a rally in Derry Monday, just days after announcing his selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
“We are ramping up our efforts in New Hampshire. New Hampshire will be play a central role in electing the next president and it will be a very tight race,” Ryan Williams, Romney’s New Hampshire spokesman, told Ireland.
Romney, who has a vacation home in Wolfeboro, will be increasing his presence in the state, Williams said.
“Gov. Romney has made many trips to the Granite State and will continue to do,” Williams said. “It is not only an important state in the election, but it’s also a special state to Gov. Romney.”
The presidential election this year is expected to turn on just a handful of battleground states, such as Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire.
The latest Granite State Poll, released Monday, shows Obama with a 49 percent to 46 percent lead over Romney, according to Andrew Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
“It’s one of the few states that is up in the air,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be very close.”
New Hampshire has always enjoyed the intense political focus that comes with the presidential primary. Now, that focus has extended into the election season.
That’s good for New Hampshire citizens, who take their voting responsibility seriously. The increased presence of the Romney and Obama campaigns in the Granite State will give voters a closer look at the candidates themselves, and help them make an informed decision on Nov. 6.