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Apr 23, 2014







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Polls show close race in NH
EBT benefits unresolved

By Jeff Mucciarone jmucciarone@hippopress.com



In what would appear to be good news for Republicans, the presidential race appears to be narrowing. That’s according to a recent WMUR Granite State Poll, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

In April, the same poll had President Barack Obama with a 9-point lead over presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney. As of last week, the Survey Center found that the race had narrowed to a 4-point margin, with Obama leading 49 percent to 45 percent.

It’s obviously not a monumental swing for the race, but it’s good news for Republican candidates in New Hampshire, and particularly good news for generic Republicans.

Pollsters at UNH surveyed 521 New Hampshire adults by telephone. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent. Pollsters found 4 percent of respondents favor some other candidate and just 3 percent of voters are undecided at this point. The two candidates split independents.

Certainly, the Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, may have caused some of the change in the polling data. While it probably vindicated many Democrats, it also probably energized and reminded some Republican voters of why everyone was so up in arms a couple years ago. The guess, and it’s not really a guess since another UNH Survey Center poll found that New Hampshire largely does not support the health care reform act, is that anger in New Hampshire over the law outweighs any positive energy stemming from the Supreme Court’s passage.

So the presidential race is close. It’s extremely close looking at the bases of support as well. Obama has 89-percent support among Democrats in the Granite State, while Romney has 86 percent support among Republicans, according to the poll.

Romney’s support among Republicans could be a key indicator to watch. People who affiliate with the Tea Party aren’t exactly in love with Romney, and it could be a group that, to at least some extent, opts out of voting for Romney. The figure could provide a glimpse at how energized each side is.

Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, said the race looks to be as close as the 2000 and 2004 elections, each of which was decided by about 1 percentage point.

If that holds true, then it’s clear, once again, that New Hampshire, even with just four electoral votes, is a real player in the election. That’s obviously why it’s seen so much candidate activity in recent weeks.

Romney was scheduled to be in New Hampshire last Friday, though he called off the event following the shooting tragedy in Colorado. The Obama campaign had scheduled a visit to New Hampshire by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland the same day, but the event was also canceled in the wake of the tragedy.
Michelle Obama is scheduled to visit New Hampshire in August.

The poll doesn’t signal any major developments in any of the other state races. It is interesting that just 3 percent of voters haven’t made up their minds. That would seem to suggest that, once again, it’s all about two things: getting your base energized and winning independents. It’s hard to tell who has the upper hand in New Hampshire just yet.

O’Brien continues EBT parade


While House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, caused a bit of a fervor a couple weeks ago when he wouldn’t let two Concord Monitor reporters into a press availability in his office to discuss EBT fraud, it hasn’t stopped O’Brien from pushing onward on his campaign to curtail EBT fraud.

O’Brien recently met with several store owners and workers to discuss their concerns over the EBT system.

“Today, we heard about welfare recipients with multiple EBT cards, including those with multiple cards from different states, about the fact that these cards have no names listed on them and about concerns about a lack of responsiveness and guidance from the state’s fraud hotline,” O’Brien said in a statement.”

This is a program that is clearly overdue for needed reform, and we will certainly address these issues and others in the next legislative session.”

EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is a means by which the state Division of Family Assistance delivers benefits to eligible recipients, such as Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other benefits.

O’Brien said the legislature passed a law to verify recipients’ identities, citizenship and assets, but “it is becoming increasingly apparent that there remains much more to do to ensure that if we are asking our neighbors to give their money to those less fortunate, that it is being done in a way that those funds go only to people who are truly in need and for life’s real necessities.”

EBT fraud drew headlines last month when a convenience store clerk in Peterborough was fired for refusing to accept an EBT card as payment for cigarettes. The matter became controversial since it revealed that there is nothing preventing people who receive EBT cash-assistance benefits from using the state money to buy cigarettes.

O’Brien also drew headlines when he reportedly didn’t allow the Monitor reporters into the press availability because of an editorial cartoon the paper ran depicting him as Hitler.

He might draw some more headlines since he referred to the Monitor as Democratic propagandists in an interview with a Patch reporter last week.






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