Hair apparent? The Republicans in New Hampshire

Dr Jon Parker – @Dr_Jon_Parker
Senior Lecturer in Politics – SPIRE

The New Hampshire Primary results are in!

It’s important to put New Hampshire in context, first.  This is the first primary (Iowa is a caucus) in the season.  See the full schedule here.  New Hampshire is important because it comes right after Iowa and can set up candidates for victories later in the process.  Everyone loves a winner, right?  However, New Hampshire is a small state that resembles the rest of the US about as well as Snowdonia (ok, Gwynedd) resembles the UK.  New Hampshire’s 2010 population was 1.3 million, made up of 2% white Latino (let’s not discuss ethnicity versus race right now and just simplify it this way), 1% Black, and 2% Asian.  The US in 2010 was 308 million people, made up of 9% white Latino, 13% Black, and 5% Asian.  New Hampshire has the lowest poverty rate of any state in the US and the sixth highest household income level.  It’s not typical, and its population will favour certain candidates over others.  You should not assume a win in New Hampshire would translate into a win elsewhere.  However, other people do assume that so it can give a candidate momentum.

That said, what should we make of the New Hampshire results?  I will only consider the Republicans for the moment (in the suspicion that Hillary will sweep most of the remaining states, but then everyone said that about her last time, too).  Here are the opinion poll results from the day of the vote:


The questions I had as the polls closed last night were:

  1. Can Donald Trump get his supporters to turn out and reach anywhere near his poll numbers (he didn’t in Iowa)?
  2. Can Ted Cruz get his supporters to turn out in higher numbers than the others (he did in Iowa)?
  3. Will Marco Rubio recover from his awful debate performance? If you didn’t catch his car crash performance then read this.
  4. Who else in the field might now be a contender?


The results now stand (with 89% reporting) at:

Delegates Vote %
Trump (won) 10 35.1%
Kasich 3 15.9%
Cruz 2 11.6%
Bush 2 11.1%
Rubio 0 10.6%
Christie 0 7.5%
Fiorina 0 4.2%
Carson 0 2.3%

From these results we can see that Donald Trump is here to stay in the race.  Many commentators (and many highly placed Republicans) kept predicting (hoping) he would fade away once the voting commenced.  Not going to happen.  He improved upon his opinion poll results on the night.  That might be an error in the polling, a swing that wasn’t evident at the time (his poll numbers were dropping) or a good turnout among his supporters.  Whatever the reason, it will give him confidence in the upcoming races where he leads in most states.

Second, Cruz did not improve on his poll figures, so presumably he didn’t turn out his base in any larger numbers than the others.  He has a very dedicated group of supporters, so he could stay in until the end.  His supporters would fit well with Trump, so how Cruz performs in subsequent races will be important.  He could play the role of kingmaker in some respects if he endorsed or called for anyone except Trump.

Rubio did not do well.  He is still in the mix, but it was a poor performance and he apologised to his supporters for it.  He needs to show better results to continue getting donations from the ‘establishment’ Republicans.  It takes a lot of money to campaign in the primaries.

Kasich and Bush kept their hopes alive, just.  They need to climb up the polls elsewhere, but this showing will keep them in the game for now.  Remember, Bush has a mountain of money he can spend as he wishes.  That will give him an advantage going into Super Tuesday (March 1st) where voting takes place in lots of states across the country.  You can’t campaign everywhere, so money really helps.

We have a primary in South Carolina on Saturday as well as a caucus in Washington for the Republicans so we can see how these trends play out.  Then, Nevada on Tuesday the 23rd.  Then, Super Tuesday on March 1st will narrow things down to a few candidates and things will get even more interesting.  And March Madness kicks off (that’s basketball, not politics).  Go Heels!


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