New Hampshire primary: What to watch for and my predictions
Many political websites like to do a “what to watch for” article before the individual primaries and I thought it would be fun to do the same so here goes.
Mitt Romney’s final vote count and margin of victory
As I have written in the past, I feel that Mitt Romney has the New Hampshire primary wrapped up, the only questions will be; what percentage of the vote does he win and how close does the second place candidate come to Mitt Romney?
If Mitt Romney wins by the large margin expected it will solidify his position moving forward and he could be well on his way to the nomination. However, if he slips and the race ends up much closer than expected we could see a long drawn out primary season with a legitimate alternative to Mitt Romney in the making.
With Mitt Romney’s close victory in Iowa (and when the vote is certified there is a chance that Rick Santorum will actually be declared the winner due to a typo) and a closer than expected vote tally in New Hampshire we could see a vulnerable Mitt Romney headed to South Carolina where his support is much less than in the North East.
The undeclared and independent turnout
In the New Hampshire primary people who are independent or undeclared on the day of the primary are allowed to take a Republican ballot and vote in the Republican primary. This also means that registered Democrats can go to their respective town halls and undeclare before primary day and then declare themselves Republicans on primary day and vote in the election as Republicans.
We saw this happen in 2008 and that is one of the biggest reasons why New Hampshire voted for John McCain. Could this happen again? I think it is probable that it will. I have no doubt that registered Republicans will turn out on January 10th and I feel the outcome is dependent on how many undeclared voters and Democrats who undeclare–with no Democrat primary to vote in–will participate in the Republican primary. If this happens we could see some interesting results tomorrow.
Jon Huntsman is the wildcard
Jon Huntsman has staked his whole campaign on the results of the New Hampshire primary; practically living in the state while trying to appeal to the undeclared voters. How successful he is could go a long way in determining the fates of all the other candidates in the race.
Now onto my predictions, hopefully I don’t embarrass myself:
Mitt Romney wins with 35% of the vote.
All of the polls have shown Mitt Romney’s support firmly between 40-42% of the vote. I am predicting he will do slightly worse based on two reasons–wishful thinking on my part that 40% of New Hampshirites do not really support Mitt Romney, and the fact that the independent, undeclared, and undecided voters are not going to break towards Romney. If most of these voters supported Romney they would already be voicing their support. The fact that they don’t yet support Romney tells me they are never going to support Romney. As votes come in from the undeclared and the undecided Mitt Romney’s number has to come down in accordance.
Ron Paul takes second place with 22%
New Hampshire voters have a strong independent, anti-nanny state sentiment and this plays toward Ron Paul’s advantage. This coupled with Ron Paul winning about 15% of the New Hampshire votes in 2008 would normally persuade me to put Ron Paul’s final percentage at 25% or above, but as I stated in “what to watch for” above Jon Huntsman is the wildcard and in the end I think he will syphon votes which would normally go to Ron Paul.
Jon Huntsman in third with 15%
Jon Huntsman’s persistence in New Hampshire will have a modest return on his investment, giving him an okay showing and vaulting him into third place, but not nearly the surprise that Rick Santorum pulled off in Iowa.
Newt Gingrich 12%
Newt Gingrich’s solid debate performances, coupled with his framing of himself as a “bold Reagan conservative” while framing Mitt Romney as a “timid Massachusetts moderate” will propel him ahead of Rick Santorum and give him a fourth place finish. He will then head south where he should enjoy more support.
Rick Santorum 10%
For most of the campaign Rick Santorum has been mired in the low single digits in New Hampshire, but he will receive a small bounce from his showing in Iowa. Enough to gain him double digits, but his strict social views will not allow him to make anywhere near the showing he made in Iowa, partly due to the libertarian mindset of many New Hampshire voters.
Rick Perry 2%
After the Iowa caucus Rick Perry decided to forego New Hampshire–with the exception of the debates–and make his stand in South Carolina where he should be poised to do better than in New Hampshire. This may be the proper move in the long run for Rick Perry but it will hurt him in New Hampshire.
The remaining 4% of the votes will be split up between the other 24 people on the New Hampshire ballot. You read that right, there are 30 people on the ballot including Michelle Bachman, Hermain Cain, Gary Johnson, and many others you have never heard of.