At the root of New Hampshire's despair is "The Pledge," that oft-invoked vow of the heavy-breathing political suitor. He -- it's always been "he" in New Hampshire, till now -- swears on a stack of Bibles and a pile of Manchester Union-Leaders that he will never allow a broad-based tax, income or sales, to sully the bright future of the great state of New Hampshire. Kiss me, you fool.
The rural homeowner who stared down attempts to demonize [Arnesen] in the primary overcame the fear of the future, fear of losing their homes to the tax man, that dominates New Hampshire elections. [Stephen Merrill]'s strategy is to rekindle that fear, to scare and spook the voters back onto the reservation with his hollow no-tax promise. Just read his lips.
Abortion is another cleavage issue. Merrill is the most anti-abortion state-wide candidate of any major party in New England. Arnesen is pro-choice. There was a hidden surge of evangelicals, some of them of the Pat Robertson stripe, in last week's primary. Ten GOP legislators lost primary fights, and some, like moderate Sen. Charles Bass (R-Peterborough) were done in by the highly-energized evangelicals.