Dave: As much as I respect parental divining skills, as well as your own prediction abilities, which are certainly far greater than mine, I’m afraid my own experience in New Hampshire just does not jibe with this analysis. In September 2002 I was assigned by one of New Hampshire’s bigger dailies (read: still really small) to cover the Howard Dean beat–mostly because he was a nobody and reporters with seniority had picked their own horses. For months I went to events where only I and maybe one or two other reporters were the audience. Yet a few months beyond that everybody in the country knew who Howard Dean was, for good or for ill. By the time I took a job at the Associated Press six months later, he was too big a fish for a minnow like me to be trusted with covering. The D.C. reporters came in for that and I was stuck covering Lieberman–who, incidentally, was fully introduced to voters three years earlier.
Only a few years earlier John McCain had gone in a matter of only a few months from marginal figure in the state to 18 point victor. When my wife met McCain at the Supreme Court a couple years back he insisted on shaking her hand a second time when he realized she was from New Hampshire.
Most of the people I know who voted for McCain in activist circles were not supporters until late in the game. Neither Dean nor McCain got to the top of the mountain, but as far as 15 months out from the primary being too late to introduce yourself–I don’t buy it. I’m not personally invested in this. I could care less whether Huckabee throws his hat in the ring and if he’s got the typical evengelical godhead complex, as Quin’s post seems to suggest, I’ll be much less inclined to look favorably upon his candidacy. BUT. None of these guys introoduce themselves to anyone. Enthusiastic grassroots do that, for which there is a long and storied tradition in the Granite State. If 15 months out they’re giddy about Huckabee…well, I could care less what anyone says, that’s significant.