Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Sununu for President?

Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) has just commenced his fourth term in office, which ties the record for 2-year terms set by John Lynch (D) from 2005-13 (a couple of New Hampshire governors served more than four terms, but those were one-year terms many years ago). There are no gubernatorial term limits in the Granite State, so Sununu can keep getting himself reelected, if that's what he wants. However, it's gotta get tiresome when you are essentially always campaigning, plus there is a certain point at which a person has accomplished whatever he set out to accomplish.

Given these circumstances, it would not be terribly surprising if Sununu was thinking about a promotion. And indeed he is; during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Sununu was asked if he was pondering a possible presidential bid, and said "yes," while adding: "I really don't have a timeline. I'm spending a lot of time naturally trying to grow the party as Republicans, talk to independents, talk to the next generation of potential Republican voters that right now no one is really reaching out to."

We think there is absolutely a lane for someone like Sununu, if 2024 turns out to be the mirror image of 2016. Recall that back then, there was an absolute stampede of normal (and semi-normal; ahem, Ted Cruz) Republicans bickering with each other while Donald Trump had the crazy lane to himself. By the time the normal (and semi-normal) Republicans realized what was going on, Trump had momentum and a delegate lead, and there was no catching him.

In the upcoming election cycle, there is going to be no shortage of candidates in the GOP crazy lane. And even if only a couple of the nutters stay alive—say, Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)—then those two might spend all their time damaging each other and splitting the MAGA vote (say, 40-60% of Republican voters) while the non-crazy Republican has the sane GOP vote to himself. Recall that, given the Party's general preference for winner-take-all contests, laying claim to 40% of the vote in a three-way contest is enough to win a huge chunk of delegates.

It would also work to Sununu's advantage that, barring a change, the first three states to cast primary-season ballots for the Republicans are Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. The Governor would win his own state, of course, and the other two states on the list have lots and lots of sane Republicans. There would be a couple of majority-nutter states (South Carolina and Wyoming) thereafter, but three wins and momentum could allow Sununu to pick off one of those. That's doubly true if some Democrats cross the aisle in the primaries in hopes of exorcising the MAGA influence from the country. After that, it's Super Tuesday, which features a lot of large states with a lot of non-MAGA Republican voters.

So, a Sununu run could make sense, and it could make some noise. But it only works if the sane Republicans coalesce around one candidate. If there are multiple people in the non-crazy-Republican lane, they'll split the sane GOP vote, and that will likely allow a MAGA candidate to win most of the delegates.

Incidentally, tomorrow we'll run the first set of results in our tracking poll. If you haven't cast your votes, you can do so until tonight at 8:00 p.m. PT. (Z)

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