The Pulse: What to watch out for in New Hampshire and beyond

William JordanUS Elections Editor
February 09, 2016, 9:56 AM GMT+0

Hello, I'm Will Jordan and welcome to The Pulse.

Voting has already begun in the Granite State. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Do we already know who will win?

    Polls show Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both leading by more than 10 points in the state, but don’t be too surprised if it’s closer than that. There have been plenty of last minute surprises in New Hampshire, an “open” primary where there is a large moveable center of independents who can vote on either the Democratic or Republican side. According to a Monmouth poll conducted over the weekend, barely half (49%) of Granite State Republican voters were completely decided.
  2. How much will the "Rubio glitch” matter?

    At the Republican debate Saturday Chris Christie assailed Marco Rubio for repeatedly pivoting to memorized lines about Barack Obama– even after Christie called him out on it. The Sunday headlines were brutal, and the punditry consensus has been overwhelmingly negative. But it’s hard to test if it has actually reached, or mattered, to voters in New Hampshire. The polling is mixed, putting Rubio anywhere between 9% and 17%, but he had been rising rapidly post-Iowa ­– “Marcomentum” seems to have stalled, at the least.
  3. Who gets to be the first loser?

    An indirect effect of Rubio’s fumble is a new lease on life for the other candidates vying for second place. Jeb Bush is campaigning with new energy, and leads in voter contacts, according to one poll. Ted Cruz is still in the mix, despite appearing to benefit little from his Iowa win. The biggest story might be Ohio governor John Kasich, who has largely avoided the spotlight ­­­– or the attacks – and is showing the strongest signs of a late surge. Along with Rubio, all four candidates are between 10% and 15% in the polling average and it seems perfectly plausible any one of them could end up in second or fifth.

  4. Another Clinton ‘comeback’?

    Bill was New Hampshire’s “comeback kid” in 1992, and Hillary defied the polls to defeat Barack Obama there in 2008. Her deficit is larger this time around, but that could work to her favor, even if it puts a win out of reach. Even if she trails by 10 when the votes are counted her campaign can point to several polls showing her 30 points behind just last week (Note: Bill lost by 8 before declaring himself the “comeback kid” in ‘92). If she loses by 15-20 points or more, the narrative will be different and Bernie may be ascendant.

  5. What’s next?

    The next contest for Republicans is a primary in South Carolina on February 20th, the same day as the Democrats caucus in Nevada (the Democratic South Carolina primary is a week later). Trump holds wide leads in the latest South Carolina polls, but post-New Hampshire momentum could shift rapidly as candidates drop out. Rubio and Bush both plan to make it as far as South Carolina whatever happens, and both have the money to do it. Cruz has already spent a lot of time there and polls well with the state’s large evangelical population. For Democrats, Nevada and South Carolina play an equally important role. If Bernie performs well in New Hampshire, the big question becomes whether he can also win over large shares of Latino and African-American voters, who remain overwhelmingly pro-Hillary in national and state polls. If he can’t change that dynamic, his prospects for winning the Democratic primary will fade fast.

  6. One more thing: President Bloomberg?

    On Monday former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed reports that he was considering a run for president. Concerned by the prospect of a Sanders-Trump race, the billionaire would campaign as a moderate problem-solver. However, a YouGov poll last week showed it would be a steep climb: only 4% of Americans said they would vote for Michael Bloomberg if he ran against their preferred Republican and Democratic candidates.

And finally here is the primary schedule:

Monday, February 1: Iowa caucuses
Tuesday, February 9: New Hampshire
Saturday, February 20: Nevada caucus (Dem); South Carolina (GOP)
Tuesday, February 23: Nevada caucus (GOP)
Saturday, February 27: South Carolina (Dem)

Follow me for updates later tonight.

The Pulse is a weekly newsletter YouGov has launched ahead of the 2016 primaries and general election to give readers a one-stop-shop for the latest polling-related news from the campaign. In addition to YouGov’s own extensive coverage of the election, The Pulse gives you the five things you need to know about the state of the campaign each week (and one you don't need to know but we think is worth knowing anyway!).

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