Monday, February 8, 2016

Granite

The New Hampshire primary is tomorrow!

(I super pinky swear I'm not going to post about every primary.)

We're still in the heady, winnowing days of the election, so the narrative seems to change hourly. Still, one can posit things that might happen:

For the Democrats:  New Hampshire, being a neighbor of Bernie Sanders' home state of Vermont, should be a shoe-in for Sanders. But, like Iowa (and, spoiler alert, the remainder of the primaries), it's all a game of expectations: the latest polling shows a huge amount of undecided voters (10%+ or so) that can literally go either way. Both can lay a claim here, since the state went for Clinton in 2008 by a small but notable margin. Still, Sanders is expected to win, but if he barely ekes out a win it will do for Clinton was Clinton's razor-thin victory in Iowa did for Sanders. And since both Iowa and New Hampshire are two of the top three states that demographically go for Sanders, it will be an uphill climb from here on out. I suspect anything less than a 10% difference gets people talking, and if Sanders wins by 5% or less it will definitely spell trouble--especially since after the inscrutable Nevada caucus there is the South Carolina primary, where Sanders will most likely get creamed (as he will in nearly all of the south).

For the Republicans:It's hard to call. I suspect Trump will eke out a win, but just barely--as in Iowa, his lead will simply melt away when people actually vote. Unfortunately, his lead (even now, at the last minute) is over 15%, so even if it does disappear he has plenty of margin. The only hope anyone else has is that one of the upstarts--namely Rubio or possible Kasich--has such high upward momentum it's not trackable this close to the election, which, combine with Trump's soft support, might propel them ahead. Speaking of, I suspect at least one of the governors (Bush, Kasich, or Christie) will get new life into their campaign; I just can't for the life of me figure out which one. (Kasich is polling better, but Christie has a strong debate only a few days ago.) We still have plenty of primaries to go, but I suspect we're going to rather quickly see a four-way race: Trump, Rubio, Cruz, and one of the governors. How this all plays out over the next few weeks should be interesting.

If Trump somehow doesn't win, I think it all falls apart. Trump has very little, if any, ground game, and was using the focus and media for Iowa and New Hampshire to propel him to the top. Once it comes down to the weekly grind of contests, Trump won't have anything to hold on to anymore. If he was able to get a second wind, he has no infrastructure to take advantage of it until it's too late.

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