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Forecasting New Hampshire: Final Prediction

February 9, 2016

So far, I’m 1 for 2.  Got the Democrats damn near perfect in Iowa, was as off as everyone else on the GOP.  Had Ted’s total about right, but was too high on Trump, too low on Rubio.  Time to do a new round of guessing.  On to the festivities!

Democrats

Bernie Sanders 55.2%

Three possibilities.  One, the polls showing Sanders with a 20+ point lead are actually correct.  Two, the polls showing Hillary within single digits are correct.  Three, the truth is somewhere in between.

I’m going with the third.  While Clinton closed tremendously in 2008 against Candidate Obama, the future president didn’t have the depth of New Hampshire support Bernie does.  He was riding high off Iowa momentum, but hadn’t spent the time in state that Sanders has.

At the same time, it doesn’t look like Bernie got that much of a post-Iowa bump.  The surveys that had him leading by a ton 1o days ago still show him with a large advantage.  The polls that had them closer still do.

I figure Bernie should run about 8 points better in New Hampshire than Iowa.  There’s a slight benefit from proving his viability in Iowa.  A larger gain from Independents being able to participate without changing registration as is necessary in Iowa.  You can also give him a couple points for being close to home.

It’s not the normal home field edge.  The Clintons are like family in New Hampshire, and Massachusetts candidates have a much larger advantage than Vermonters as Boston media is highly influential in Southern New Hampshire, where 60% of the voters are.

Bernie very likely won the raw vote in Iowa.  They won’t release the totals, leaving us only the state delegate equivalents, but Hillary’s edge in voter distribution leads me to think Sanders would have needed to have a 2-3% advantage to wind up in that virtual tie.

Add all that up, and he wins New Hampshire by 10 to 11 points.

Hillary Clinton 44.6%

Once thought of as a savior on the campaign trail, Bill Clinton increasingly resembles Peyton Manning.  Unless the clips are incredibly deceiving, the Big Dog doesn’t have his fastball anymore.  Trotting out Madeline Albright to shame young women into voting for Hillary was a bad idea.

Rumors abound that a campaign staff shake-up is in the offing.  Bernie consistently draws much larger crowds.  The Clinton camp is acting like they are trailing by a large margin.

I still have trouble believing Hillary won’t at least wind up in the low-mid 40s in a two-person race.  Older women are still with her, even in New Hampshire.  Those are still the voters most likely to show up and vote.

For all the criticism, internal and external, Hillary did get her voters out in Iowa.  She should benefit from good infrastructure again.

 

Republicans

Donald Trump 26.2%

Until he proves otherwise, I’m going to chop a couple/few points from Trump’s final poll averages.  Caucuses are probably a bigger hit for him than primaries, but will assume not all Trumpists will make it to the polls.

From what we can tell from the giant sample size of one (Iowa), his voters are the most committed, but the leaners/undecideds moved away from him at the end.  Trump did generally well in the debate, and hasn’t done anything to push his loyalists away this week.

Semi-anecdotal evidence said some Trump defectors became Rubio voters in Iowa.  That seems less likely in New Hampshire after Marco’s debate mishap.  Any leakage would wind up more distributed this time.

John Kasich 17.3%

A couple of pollsters have had Kasich in this range for two or three weeks now.  It looks like Bernie is set to win the Democratic side, so perhaps a few more Independents will decide to participate on the GOP side.  That supposedly should help Kasich, who polls better with Independents than Republicans.

Other polls have Kasich to the lower end of the mid-tier candidate cluster, but he’s trending slightly upward in their most recent tracking results.  The debate went well for him.  He has good ground coverage.  The campaign is in good spirits.

Even Jon Huntsman got 16.9% in 2012.  He was a worse version of this type of candidate.  He did have the benefit of a weaker field and no primary challenge to President Obama, pushing Independents to the only contested race.

If that all cancels out, Kasich should wind up with a similar vote share.

Jeb Bush 15.1%

The prospective Bush 45 had his best debate yet on Saturday.  The pundit class thinks he won his duel with Trump on eminent domain.  Jeb followed up by heaping scorn on The Donald at various campaign stops.  Trump fired back.  You’d think this was August, except Jeb is giving as good as he gets now.

Emerson has released two polls that have him in second.  They did an excellent job of hitting the final numbers in Iowa, so it makes you think.  Still, even the improved Jeb isn’t a perfect candidate, and many voters realize he has a tough road after New Hampshire.

Having his mom visit over the weekend couldn’t have hurt with the voters who are willing to consider a legacy candidate.  I was tempted to give him a higher percentage/standing, but there are a large amount of voters who weren’t willing to consider him at all.

Marco Rubio 14.4%

Conventional wisdom says Rubio needs to finish higher than fourth to retain his viability going forward.  I disagree, but that’s another story for another day (like tomorrow if he actually finishes fourth or fifth).

A couple of pollsters have stated his numbers on Sunday fell, even if their longer survey period showed him with decent numbers.  Others have not indicated the same pattern.  It doesn’t appear there’s any surge in his favor, but that doesn’t mean supporters are abandoning ship.

Even before the debate, Rubio suffered from less committed poll supporters, but benefited from being the second choice of many.  Though some voters may have pulled away from him over the past 48-60 hours, it doesn’t mean they firmly decided on someone else.

My guess is a few of the stragglers return to the nest in time to vote for him.  While the endless clips of the debate aren’t helping with many voters, a few may appreciate an attack on Barack Obama on infinite loop.  Rush Limbaugh stuck up for Marco on his show Monday, something that hasn’t happened often.

With some more conservative voters, being attacked by Christie and Bush might actually help Marco.  Sometimes having the right enemies is more useful than the right friends.

If he’d crushed the debate, I would have needed to ponder picking him to win the primary.  For now, I’ll just say he’s not going to collapse.

Ted Cruz 12.9%

This might wind up a little low if Ted’s turnout operation works for primaries too.  It should.  While more essential and having more impact in a caucus state, solid tech and a good ground force never hurt.

Cruz has shown he’s able to identify who his voters are.  There’s no reason to believe that’s any different in New Hampshire.  Having a more limited pool may make his job easier.

The 2nd through 5th place finishers could wind up in any order without surprising me very much.

Chris Christie 6.4%

His Real Clear Politics average is actually a little lower than this.  While I’m convinced his takedown of Rubio helped Kasich, Bush, Trump, and Cruz more than Christie, you have to figure a few extra voters decided to jump on board.

He’s talking about his schedule in South Carolina and claiming his internal polls are showing a whole new race since the debate.  I’m not buying.  His interview with Megyn Kelly last night was 85% about Rubio, 15% about Christie.  Just selling voters on picking a governor isn’t enough.

Carly Fiorina 5.2%

If Carly winds up this close to the star of the debate after being excluded from the debate, she has a good excuse to continue.  Her poll numbers are in this general range, and I’m assuming there are a few Granite State voters who are determined to register their displeasure with how things are being handled.

Aside from the psychology or strategy, Fiorina is popular with voters who also like Rubio.  For those who were rattled by his debate choke and don’t want to support a governor, this is a natural landing place.

Ben Carson 2.3%

He’s just not competitive in New Hampshire.  Carson wasn’t particularly impressive in the debate, beyond what was necessary to hold his most committed supporters.  There is a core of support in South Carolina and elsewhere, but it’s not going to help him today.

I did cheat a bit.  Dixville Notch, NH has performed its traditional role of opening the proceedings with a 12:01 a.m. vote.  On the GOP side, Kasich got 3 votes, Trump 2.  For the Democrats, Bernie swept all four votes.  That may have influenced the above forecast.

If the predictions are bad, blame them for deceiving me.  If they’re good, I had this figured all along.

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