Today America will be treated to its first “real” primary of the 2016 election. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire is a straight vote primary, not a caucus. What makes New Hampshire unique is that independents can pick which party’s primary they wish to vote in and they get to participate. And in the end that is the first thing viewers need to look for in tonight’s coverage.
Unless the polls are wrong at a record breaking level, Bernie Sanders will win the Democratic Primary tonight and Donald Trump will win on the GOP side. Do not expect a first place surprise in New Hampshire. This is where the independents come in. The more independents vote on the Democratic Party side, the better for Bernie Sanders as he is a favorite of the non-affiliated. If you see them voting on the GOP side the wisdom is that they will be voting for Trump. However there’s a caveat, over the past few days there has been movement of independents toward Kasich, there is the possibility they would help the Ohio governor, however I wouldn’t bet against Trump.
After Iowa many Republicans hoped to see the support consolidate around one of two candidates who’s name wasn’t Donald Trump or Ted Cruz , and certainly Florida Senator Marco Rubio had surged into second place and was even threatening Donald Trump. However after Rubio’s weak performance in Saturday night’s debate that is now unlikely to happen.
In his last day of campaigning NJ Governor Chris Christie urged voters to pick a candidate who “has the maturity, and the steadiness, and the aggression to protect our country and put us back in the right spot.” Voters may do that, but they wont be voting for Christie.
It wasn’t just Rubio’s debate performance that threatens him in New Hampshire, it was the fact that his losing confrontation with Christie has been lead political news ever since. Marco has been hurt and there isn’t time for him to turn it around.
Iowa was built for Ted Cruz , but New Hampshire isn’t Iowa. New Hampshire doesn’t have the same sized Evangelical community as the caucus state. Cruz won’t finish in the top three here.
Fighting for second place will be a resurgent Jeb Bush, , John Kasich . Bush were helped by their debate performance, as did Kasich, but the Ohio Governor made New Hampshire his number one campaigning spot out of the early states. Look for Kasich place second. A caveat here is that yesterday Bush called for the overturning of Citizens United, not a major deal if looked at alone, but it does feed the perception that he is not as conservative as other candidates, that might hurt him.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will be fighting for fourth. It all depends on how bad Rubio was hurt by the debate and subsequent coverage. As for Chris Christie, he killed Marcomentum for nothing. Any pickup from Rubio’s fall will go to Bush and/or Kasich. Christie will leave New Hampshire with calls for him to drop out.
Keep in mind there has never been a candidate that one the GOP nomination without winning Iowa or New Hampshire (of course this is not the typical year).
Ben Carson will be done after tonight (but he won’t drop out yet) as will Carly Fiorina. I hear rumors that Jim Gilmore may beat his Iowa total of 11 votes, but that seems a stretch.
After tonight’s New Hampshire primary the GOP will be a five person race, Trump, Bush, Kasich, Cruz and Rubio. Then on to South Carolina in two weeks, where as of today Trump holds a big lead but things change fast during the primary season.