Polling shows that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have substantial leads, but many Republican voters could change their minds. Sanders’ image is improving nationwide. And the role of money in campaigns is complicated. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, February 9, 2016.
MANY NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTERS HEAD TO THE POLLS UNDECIDED - Ryan Struyk: "A large chunk of the New Hampshire electorate says they're still willing to change their allegiances -- just a day before the primary. More than four in 10 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say they still could change their minds...A CNN/WMUR/UNH poll shows that less than half of likely Republican voters say they have 'definitely decided' who they're going to vote for. The GOP electorate is more fluid than the Democratic side. Roughly eight in 10 Democrats say that they have a firm choice in recent polling, with both candidates about equally firm in their support." [ABC]
What would constitute a surprise outcome? - Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley: “Polling in the New Hampshire primary is often far off the mark — the electorate has a remarkably high number of late-deciders and switchers — but keep this in mind: Trump has appeared strong in New Hampshire for more than half a year….And since early January, Sanders has led 38 straight polls, with most also showing a double-digit lead. So Sanders or Trump losing would be a big surprise....What wouldn’t be a surprise...Given the heavily fragmented polling data and the uncertainty surrounding the impact of Saturday’s debate on the outcome, we could see an electoral traffic jam that creates five '10-percenters' on Tuesday night.” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]
Polling averages show a tight race for second place - Donald Trump currently takes just over 30 percent in HuffPost Pollster’s average of the New Hampshire race, nearly twice the support of any other candidate, but the race for second is less clear. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has 15 percent, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich right behind at 14 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has 12 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has managed to get back into double digits with 10 percent.
No change in the New Hampshire Democratic primary polls - Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ) has a 14-point lead over Hillary Clinton, 55 percent to 41 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster’s average. That’s mostly unchanged since mid-January, although it's possible Clinton saw a small bump in the polls after the Iowa caucuses.
But will the polls be right? - Steve Koczela: "When major upheaval happens at the last minute, it’s difficult to assess whether the polls were right when they were taken, if they end up different from the final result. Once Election Day has passed, a backward look to figure out when the race changed is often all but impossible. In a world ideal to pollsters, and those who collect and criticize polls for a living, there would be plenty of time to conduct more polls to fully assess the impact of every potentially seismic shift. But we live in the real world. And it’s really not about us....[A]t the end of the day, it’s up to the voters. And there is plenty of evidence many of them make up their mind at the end of the day, after the polls have stopped." [WBUR]
WHY A 74-YEAR-OLD SOCIALIST APPEALS TO MILLENNIALS - Harry Enten: "Perhaps the most eye-popping statistic to come out of last week’s Iowa caucuses was Bernie Sanders’s overwhelming advantage among young voters. According to the Iowa entrance poll, Sanders beat Hillary Clinton 84 percent to 14 percent among Democrats aged 17 to 29…. But Clinton easily won among voters aged 45 and older, allowing her to essentially tie with him in the state. Pre-election polls in New Hampshire suggest that the age divisions in the Democratic electorate could be at least as dramatic here….[Y]ounger Americans view political labels like 'socialist' and 'libertarian' differently than older ones...that might be helping Sanders." 
Bernie Sanders’ favorables also rising nationally - Frank Newport: "Heading into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary voting, the biggest shift we are monitoring in Americans' big-picture look at the candidates comes among Democrats. Bernie Sanders' image is becoming more positive to Democrats across the country by the day, even as Hillary Clinton's sinks….But there's a big cautionary note: Clinton's image among Democrats (and among all Americans if we go back in time) is extraordinarily labile -- meaning that it fluctuates. This past year alone, her net favorable among Democrats has gone from the +60s in the summer to as low as +46 in September, only to rise again in October and November and to fall again now to near her low for the year….What goes up or down for Clinton can easily reverse itself." [Gallup]
WHY THE CAMPAIGN MONEY TRAIL MATTERS - Kirby Goidel and Keith Gaddie: "One of the observations currently being made about the 2016 presidential elections involves the ineffectiveness of money as a campaign resource….Raising large sums in mostly small increments, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has raised over $74 million, enough money to compete with the Clinton fundraising machine….If the campaign finance system is broken by Wall Street influence, how has a self-described 'democratic socialist' raised more money in individual contributions than any single candidate in the Republican field, and more small donor contributions than any candidate in history? On the other side of the aisle, Jeb Bush and his affiliated Super PACs have raised over $150 million to barely register as a blip in the national polls or in the Iowa caucuses….[M]oney is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for winning an election. Candidates who can't raise money necessarily lose, but raising (or spending) the most money is no guarantee of victory." [HuffPost]
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TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Donald Trump finished in second place in three of the small New Hampshire towns that kick off the state's voting. [HuffPost]
-Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush have the strongest ground games in New Hampshire. [Monmouth]
-Nate Cohn outlines what the outcome in New Hampshire could mean going forward. [NYT]
-Reid Wilson explains New Hampshire's political geography in 11 maps. [Morning Consult]
-Jonathan Bernstein argues it doesn't matter that Iowa and New Hampshire vote first. [Bloomberg]
-Toni Monkovic thinks part of John Kasich's problem is his appeal to liberals. [NYT]
-Maura Ewing describes the unique challenges of polling Latino voters. [Atlantic]
-Clinton campaign pollster Joel Benenson is rumored to be “on thin ice” after Iowa. [Politico]