HUFFPOLLSTER: New Hampshire Primaries Could Bring More Surprises

“The New Hampshire primary is famous for things going bananas at the last minute.”

Pollsters warn that the New Hampshire primaries could offer surprises. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are maintaining their comfortable leads in the Granite State, but Marco Rubio seems to be surging. And your age probably determines how you get your news about the election. This is HuffPollster for Friday, February 4, 2016.

OPINIONS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE CAN SHIFT QUICKLY - Steve Koczela: "The polls in the first-in-the-nation primary have been pretty stable in recent weeks, in terms of the story they are telling and the amount of variation between polls. Donald Trump has remained way ahead of a rotating cast of second- and third-place runners in the Republican race, and his support level has been stable. And Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a sizable and apparently widening lead on the Democratic side. But the New Hampshire primary is famous for things going bananas at the last minute, so a clear race now is very different than a foregone conclusion. And with a come-from-behind win for Republican Ted Cruz in Iowa Monday night, anything could still happen. [WBUR]

Trump has a solid lead but there is room for surprise - Nate Silver:  "[W]hile we’re mostly taking a wait-and-see approach...I feel reasonably comfortable with the following three conclusions: Trump remains the favorite in New Hampshire. Even if you expect Trump’s numbers to decline further and for him to underperform his polls on Election Day, he starts with a pretty big cushion. Rubio is the most likely candidate to knock Trump off. That’s the conclusion of polls-plus, which gives Rubio a 16 percent chance of winning New Hampshire. Rubio has gained more ground than Cruz in the polls we’ve seen so far, and he’s better-suited to New Hampshire. Volatility remains really high. Like Iowa, New Hampshire is a hard state to poll. For one thing, the post-Iowa bounces may not be fully ‘priced in’ yet.” [538]

RUBIO RISES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AFTER STRONG FINISH IN IOWA - Four new polls, conducted completely after the Iowa caucuses, show Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) getting a boost from his strong finish Monday night. Donald Trump still leads the field, averaging 33 percent in the HuffPost Pollster average, but Rubio is up to an average of 14 percent from 10 percent just a few days ago. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) does not seem to be gaining much from his Iowa win, staying at a fairly consistent average of 13 percent. [CNN/UNH/WMUR, ARG, NBC/WSJ/Marist, UMass Lowell/7 News, HuffPost]

SANDERS MAINTAINS LARGE LEAD - Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) is holding on to a 22-point lead in New Hampshire after running a very close race in Iowa, according to the HuffPost Pollster average. There is some evidence Clinton could be surging: A tracking poll from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and 7 News shows Clinton up 10 points compared to their pre-Iowa polls. Notably, though, post-Iowa polls from CNN/University of New Hampshire/WMUR and NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist show no change in the race. Sanders has 58 percent support in the HuffPost Pollster average, and Clinton is far behind, averaging 36 percent. [CNN/UNH/WMUR, NBC/WSJ/Marist, UMass Lowell/7 News, HuffPost]

PRIMARY POLLS ARE IMPERFECT - Nora Kelly: "The conventional wisdom going into the Iowa caucuses held that, if voter turnout was high, Donald Trump would take the state...But what actually happened Monday night confirmed another, perhaps quieter suspicion among primary-cycle observers: that Cruz’s ground game, and greater support among evangelicals, would carry the day. For those shocked by the GOP results, take heart: Iowa is notoriously fickle, and not even top pollsters firmly predicted a win for Trump or Cruz, despite assumptions to the contrary. And it’d be wise to steel yourself for more unpredictability in the minutes, hours, and days leading up to next week’s primary in New Hampshire. 'We really do tend to look at [polls] as if they are somehow predictive...The best you can do is approximate and, if you’re a pollster, hope that the trends don’t shift on you,' David Redlawsk, the director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, said with a laugh. 'But they often do.'” [Atlantic]

 Lessons from past New Hampshire surprises - Steven Shepard: “[I]t’s worth recalling the most famous example of the failure of pre-election surveys to predict the outcome of the New Hampshire primary....[In 2008, Hillary] Clinton stormed from behind in the race’s final 24 hours, leading pollsters – including the industry’s professional organization, the American Association for Public Opinion Research – to conduct thorough reviews of industry practices. Their most basic conclusion: Polls that stop days before the primary miss important shifts in voter preference that occur right up until Election Day. [Politico]

DO LOW RESPONSE RATE MEAN LESS ACCURATE POLLS? - HuffPollster: "Pollsters face a growing obstacle in gathering Americans’ opinions: getting people to answer their calls. The proportion of people called who answer the survey -- in pollster jargon, the 'response rate' -- has dropped dramatically over the last few decades as Americans have changed how they interact with the world…. A 2012 report from Pew Research, one of the nation's most reputable pollsters, showed a 9 percent response rate, compared to nearly 40 percent in the late 1990s…. Americans' increasing unwillingness to answer their phones makes conducting telephone polls trickier and more expensive. But whether it also makes surveys less accurate hinges on something called "nonresponse bias" -- whether the people who answer polls, as a group, hold different opinions from the ones who don't. So far, that hasn't really been the case." [HuffPost]

LIKELY PRIMARY VOTERS RELY ON CABLE TV FOR ELECTION NEWS - Damon Beres: "Most Americans prefer cable news to social media and websites when learning about the election, a survey published Thursday indicates. Ninety-one percent of U.S. adults say they got new information about the election in the past week, and 24 percent of those say cable TV news was the "most helpful" source. Social media came in second, with 14 percent calling it the most helpful, putting it on par with local TV (also 14 percent), while 13 percent favored news websites and apps. The survey also found that cable TV is the most prominent source for people who are "very likely to participate" in a primary or caucus. That said, the findings, which were gathered by the Pew Research Center, change dramatically depending on which age group you're looking at. [HuffPost]

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FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

Voters consider issues more important than electability when choosing a candidate. [Gallup] 

-Americans don't think either political party is supportive of the middle class. [Pew]  

-Undecided Democrats would like to see more Democratic primary debates. [HuffPost]

-Philip Bump explains in two graphs how different the New Hampshire electorate than Iowa is. [WashPost]

-Janell Ross discusses why Bernie Sanders hasn't garnered much support from voters of color. [WashPost]