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George Diepenbrock
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Media advisory: Political scientists dissect late developments in New Hampshire primary

Tue, 02/09/2016

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas experts are available to comment on developments in the New Hampshire presidential primary as voters from both parties head to the polls Tuesday.

In the Republican race, Donald Trump is looking for his lead in the polls to transfer to a victory after finishing second last week in Iowa. Marco Rubio is hoping to keep momentum after his unexpected third-place finish a week ago, as is Iowa's winner, Ted Cruz. Candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie also have bet large on a strong finish in New Hampshire.

For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders is seeking to win next to his home state of Vermont, while Hillary Clinton hopes to mount another comeback in New Hampshire, much like she did in 2008.

Patrick Miller, assistant professor of political science, monitors national polling made available and tweets analysis at Twitter.com/pmiller1693. His broad research interests include national politics and attitudes of partisanship.

Q: For the Democrats, what are the key developments to watch for in New Hampshire after the Iowa results last week?

Miller: Sanders has led in polling since August. He currently averages a 15-point lead in the polls. Notably, Sanders has represented the neighboring state in Congress for a quarter century, New Hampshire has many former Vermont residents living there, and there is substantial media overlap between the two states.

Consequently, Sanders has an almost home-state advantage there. He should win, with the only drama perhaps being whether Clinton can cut his 15-point lead into a smaller victory. The next round of states — South Carolina and Nevada — are demographically much more favorable to Clinton, so Sanders needs to take a New Hampshire win of any size and try to broaden his appeal to demographic groups —especially women, minorities and older voters — who are not yet in his camp.

Q: What about the Republican primary?

Miller: New Hampshire is Trump's to lose. The big question is who finishes second and by how much. Most recent polling has shown a statistical dead heat for second place — far behind Trump — between Bush, Cruz, Kasich and Rubio. Notably, New Hampshire is the only state where Bush and Kasich poll substantially better than their relatively poor national numbers.

The hurdle for Rubio here is to break out from the establishment pack. If he can substantially outperform Bush and Kasich — who need to finish close to Rubio in order to remain viable — then he may start to cement his place as the leading establishment choice. Post-Iowa polling suggests Rubio may be moving ahead of Bush and Kasich, but he needs that momentum to continue.

New Hampshire is less critical to Cruz. Relatively few Republicans there are evangelicals, and evangelical-oriented candidates like Cruz tend not to perform well in New Hampshire. If Cruz does not finish spectacularly there, that is likely more a result of state demographics than anything about his campaign. Long term, though, Cruz will want to broaden his appeal outside of his evangelical base if he wants to have a more viable campaign.

Other KU political science experts who are available to discuss the primary:

Christina Bejarano, associate professor of political science, researches women and Latinos in U.S. electoral politics, both their voting trends and political candidates. She has written two books: "The Latino Advantage: Gender, Race and Political Success" and "The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics." Bejarano wrote a blog last week about identity politics in the Iowa caucuses.

"In the Democratic primary, we are watching to see if Clinton can increase her momentum and perform contrary to the polls, which she may be able to do if she can garner increased support from women," Bejarano said. "New Hampshire includes a large portion of independent voters, which can also influence the Republican primary and the ability of the two Latino candidates, Rubio and Cruz, to increase their showing."

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, researches American politics and public policy and can speak about national political trends.

"For the Democrats New Hampshire won’t have much significance unless Clinton does better than what the polls have been showing in the state. She will lose, but if she does better than expected then she can claim a symbolic victory in Sanders’ backyard," Haider-Markel said. "For the Republicans this is a more important contest. If Trump does not come in first nearly all of the candidates will likely stay in the race, which will stretch things out. Just as important is how Bush, Carson, Christie and Kasich perform. Assuming Trump is first, each of these four candidates needs to come in fourth or better or risk being pushed out of the race. However, if Trump loses then it could be that no one drops out and the race is extended."

Burdett Loomis, professor of political science, researches Congress, U.S. politics and lobbying.

To arrange an interview with Miller, Bejarano, Haider-Markel or Loomis, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.



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