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On GOP side: Trump level in N.H., Rubio moves up, Kasich catches up with Cruz

February 6th, 2016, 8:51am by Sam Wang

In New Hampshire, Donald Trump is right where he’s been since August. In seven polls done February 2-4, he is at a median of 29.0 ± 1.4 %. He was rising in late January, but that came back down after the Iowa caucuses on February 1. So he’s stuck…in first place.

Marco Rubio continues a slow rise that started in August, and has now jumped to second place, at 17.0 ± 1.1 %. Bush, Kasich, and Christie are approximately unchanged (and in fact Kasich has risen in the last few weeks), which contradicts the idea that the establishment tier of candidates has a sealed pool of support. Instead, Rubio’s gains came at Trump’s expense. Perhaps there is a sliver of malleable voters who are moving back and forth between apparent winners. So the pool of undecided voters (7%) could move results by a fair bit on Tuesday from the data available now.

The only other candidates who are obviously above the 10% threshold for getting delegates are Ted Cruz (13.0 ± 1.1%) and John Kasich (13.0 ± 1.2%). Now tied for 3rd/4th place, evidently Cruz got no benefit at all from Iowa. Kasich has said “if we get smoked here, I’m going home.” A third-place finish, if it happens, would seem respectable. Finally, we have Jeb Bush at 9.0 ± 0.3%, barely out of the money. He could well get above threshold.

The 10% threshold in New Hampshire imposes a certain tyranny on candidates who do not finish first. In addition to leaving lower-tier candidates without any delegates, any delegates who are not assigned go to the top finisher. Under current conditions, that would lead to the assignment of 20 delegates as shown above.

New Hampshire’s case is not unusual. Despite the fact that the Republican National Committee has mandated “proportional” representation in early states, the definition of proportional still gives a bonus to high-finishing candidates. See my analysis in The American Prospect and here on PEC.

Tags: 2016 Election

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