Thursday, February 11, 2016

About New Hampshire

The results of the New Hampshire Primary are in and—surprise!—there’s absolutely no surprise. The results pretty much mirrored polling, more or less, so I have no idea why so many people seem breathless about the winners.

For example, CNN’s poll released yesterday had Trump at 31%, and he ended up with 35.3%. That same poll had Sanders had 61% support and Clinton 35%; their actual results were Sanders 60.4% and Clinton 38%. In other words, the winners came in pretty much spot-on, more or less, with what polls were predicating. So, why was anyone surprised by who won or by how much?

In fact, polls had Sanders leading Clinton since New Year’s, and the lead has gone back and forth between them since August. In other words, the trend has been obvious for some six months—and that’s without even getting into whether Sanders had an advantage because he comes from the neighbouring state.

On the Republican side, it’s been obvious even longer: Polls had Trump leading since July.

Iowa did nothing to change any of that, of course: Neither Trump nor Sanders did any better or worse because of what happened in that state. In fact, they performed exactly as expected.

The ones who DID do badly were the also-rans, though John Kasich did much better than anyone predicted. In that CNN poll, he was at 10%, but he ended up in second place with 15.8%. Marco “Mr Roboto” Rubio was the clear loser, dropping from 17% in the poll to 10.6% on the night—almost as if he switched places with Kasich. Pundits blame Rubio’s terrible debate performance, and given some preliminary polling data, that seems fair.

Still, Rubio, Canadian-born Rafael “Ted” Cruz and Jeb! (just don’t say) Bush are all nearly tied for third: Cruz got 11.7% (polled at 14%), and Bush got 11% (considerably better than his polling at 7%). I am a little surprised that Cruz did so well: New Hampshire is one of the least religious states in the USA, so I would’ve though that he’d do worse than he did. Maybe all the religious people are Republicans?

At any rate, this will probably spell the end of Chris Christie’s campaign. He got only 7.4%, meaning he'd be out of the next debate.  He tweeted last night that he’ll "make a decision on our next step forward," which sounds like his exit is imminent. Kasich may benefit from his showing, though I doubt that very much.

New Hampshire is not the bellwether that some pundits like to portray it as. Since 1952, Democratic voters have picked the eventual nominee only about half the time—9 out of 16 primaries. Republicans have done MUCH better, picking the eventual nominee 13 out of 16 times. So what? None of that means anything at all.

Ultimately, the results in New Hampshire are interesting because it’s the first time that voters have been able to vote, rather than take part in an antidemocratic caucus. However, New Hampshire is no more representative of the USA generally than Iowa is.

Let’s look at New Hampshire’s demographic profile, as I did with Iowa. Like Iowa, New Hampshire is overwhelmingly white (94% v. USA’s 72% white). It’s population is a mere 1.1% African American (USA: 13%), and 2.2% Asian (USA 5%). Also like Iowa, New Hampshire’s Hispanic population is negligible (the USA’s is 17% Hispanic/Latino, of any race).

The contest now moves on to South Carolina and Nevada, which will likely provide different results yet again. This campaign is FAR from over.


rogerogreen said...

Cruz's appeal is shutting down the govt, not religion, in NH. this is a fun article from 8 months ago: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/06/09/we-have-a-secret-of-our-own-for-bernie-sanders-your-odds-in-new-hampshire-arent-that-good/

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

LOL, I love the first line of that article: ""Update, Feb. 9: Oops."

The thing about Cruz is that he is what he is: He can't spend all that time and energy proving his fundamentalist bonafides and then pretend none of it happened just because he's in a secular state. People aren't stupid. When he made his victory sermon speech in Iowa, sounding like any garden variety TV preacher, it made some people gasp (including people here in New Zealand, who mentioned that specifically to me). He cannot run and hide, even though it's inconvenient in more secular states. Moreover, his trying to hide his religiosity in secular states—hiding his light under a bushel, as his fans might put it—would work against him in contests in rightwing, overtly religious states.

And, in the highly improbable event that he somehow wins the Republican nomination, that extremist religiosity will dog him every step he takes. The vast majority of US voters aren't extremist religious nutjobs—not even most Republican-leaning voters—and he'd scare the hell (so to speak) out of mainstream voters.

My wager would be that his religious extremism will be his undoing in primaries in larger, more populous, and more representative states. The Republican Party may have become radicalised, but the majority of voters haven't.