Here Comes New Hampshire
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Approximately twelve hours before the polling booths open in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire–where all voting in all elections has traditionally begun—there are many New Hampshire voters who appear to have not yet finalized their votes. In the first in the nation actual primary on Tuesday, there are a remarkable number of variables still at play. Final polls are sufficiently unclear for a number of reasons that making firm predictions is very challenging at best.
Certain things appear, however, to be clearer now than they were after the Iowa caucus last Monday night. After their respective final debates entering the final day before voting, on the Democratic side the issue appears to be only to determine by how large a margin will Sanders beat Hillary? If she can meet or beat the polls which show Bernie with a 12-16% lead, Clinton will go into both Nevada and South Carolina in an upbeat mode. If Bernie does extremely well—keeping in mind that New Hampshire conducts an open primary permitting cross-over voting—Clinton’s campaign will need to get into very high spin mode to counter its impact going forward; otherwise, the Democrats may well be facing a repeat of the McGovern election.
On the Republican side following up on Saturday night’s debate, the fall-out, and the last polls, there are numerous unknowns which might begin to sort out after Tuesday night. Specifically, there are no solid post-debate polls during which many suggest might have stirred up the entire race. While Trump is still expected to win, if he comes in considerably below 30% of the vote, after losing Iowa, it will confirm what many analysts are now suggesting that Trump’s true market is no higher than 30%. (It is fascinating to note that in New Hampshire as in Iowa, Trump has not invested in a ground game to GOTV; assuming his celebrity name recognition is sufficient.)
For Rubio after running so strongly in Iowa, he was clearly trampled by the New Jersey pit bull during the Saturday debate. It will be curious to see if Rubio recovers to maintain the second place position which he held in the polls before the debates or whether his disappointing performance will show up in a significant hit in votes. At the same time it is unclear whether Christie’s maneuvers actually give him a bump up from his lagging 5-6% poll numbers prior to the debate.
The contest for Cruz is to sustain momentum ahead of the Bush-Christie-Kasich- group. If he falls back, he will be defining his support as narrower than an eventual national campaign will need. If any of the three Governors move out from the pack, he may be the one establishment candidate who can still make a serious race; despite all the money that some of the others may already have raised. As for Fiorina and Carson it is time to close up shop and stop wasting money.