Mock Convention’s New Hampshire Team Predicts Trump Win
Lexington, VA -- The 2016 Washington and Lee Mock Convention Political Team is predicting DONALD J. TRUMP to win the New Hampshire Primary on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. After his loss in Iowa, the pressure is on Trump to hold his double-digit polling lead in the Granite State and win the first in the nation primary. No candidate has gone on to win the nomination after losing in both Iowa and New Hampshire since 1970. We expect it to be a close race, with Trump edging out Rubio by a few points, followed closely by Kasich, Cruz, Bush, Christie, Fiorina, Carson, and Gilmore, respectively.
New Hampshire receives 23 delegates, 3 of which are unbound who vote for the candidate of their choice at the convention, and the other 20 are bound according to the results of the proportional primary. For a candidate to receive delegates, he or she must garner at least 10% of the statewide vote. Beyond that, his or her delegate count is determined by proportioning his or her share of the statewide vote to the 20 delegates. All remaining delegates are then awarded to the candidate with the most votes in the state. The primary is considered a “mixed primary,” with voting open to only registered party members and registered independents.
We expect Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Jim Gilmore to not reach the 10% threshold necessary to receive delegates in the state. Christie has spent the most time in New Hampshire with 72 days, has virtually visited every corner of the state, and has received the most individual endorsements of all the candidates, including one from State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and the endorsement of the Union Leader, the leading conservative paper in the state. However, despite his strong ground game and solid performance in Saturday night’s debate, we expect him to receive about 9% of the vote, just short of the 10% minimum threshold. Christie’s surge in the polls in the late summer plateaued after the rise of Rubio and Kasich’s popularity in the state. Fiorina, despite being very well liked by "establishment" figures throughout the state, is only expected to receive about 4% of the statewide vote. Carson, who has not spent much time in the Granite State, is expected to only garner about 2% of the popular vote, with Gilmore behind him at less than a percent.
Jeb Bush is expected to come in 5th in the state, receiving 2 delegates. Bush has maintained a strong ground game throughout the state, but has seen his efforts diminished by other surging "establishment" figures such as Kasich and Rubio. Bush has spent roughly 52 days in the state, many of which were concentrated in the center of the state where the more moderate Republicans tend to live. Bush has received 12 key endorsements in the state, including Judd Gregg, the former Senator and Governor of New Hampshire, as well as Chuck Morse, the president of the State Senate. However, Jeb has failed to connect with the establishment voters to the extent his opponents John Kasich and Marco Rubio have.
Ted Cruz, fresh off his win in Iowa, is expected to win 4th place in the state, capturing 3 delegates. Cruz’s support in the state has been relatively stable, with a majority of his support coming from evangelicals. Cruz is endorsed by 8 key figures, including Jane Cormier who serves as president of New Hampshire Right to Life. Cruz polls very well among religious voters, particularly along the border with Massachusetts, which tends to be one of the more conservative parts of the state. Cruz is expected to use his momentum from his win in the caucuses to carry him to 4th place.
John Kasich is expected to take 3rd place in the state, earning him 3 delegates and finishing behind Rubio by a slim margin. Kasich has spent nearly 71 days in the state, and has had one of the strongest and most effective ground games out of all the candidates. Kasich has led all others in newspaper endorsements, winning the support of the Keene Sentinel, Portsmouth Herald, New York Times, and Boston Globe. Kasich has also received the endorsement of 12 key state figures, including US Representative Charlie Bass and State House of Representatives Majority Leader Jack Flanagan. Kasich has visited every part of the state and has held a wide variety of events, ranging from small home get-togethers to huge rallies. Kasich has seen his support continue to surge throughout the state on account of his commitment to campaigning in the area and experience as both an executive and legislator, capturing a lot of the "establishment" votes that would otherwise go to Christie, Bush, or Rubio. Kasich is expected to lose to Rubio by only a few percentage points.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is expected to win 2nd place and capture 4 delegates, barely edging out Kasich and coming a few points short of Trump. After his strong performance in Iowa, Rubio is capitalizing on his role as the "establishment" candidate and alternative to Cruz and Trump. Despite only spending 28 days in the Granite State, Rubio and his Super PACs have flooded the networks with ads on his behalf. Rubio has racked up 10 key endorsements in the state, including Jim Merrill, who ran Romney’s New Hampshire campaigns in both 2008 and 2012. Despite his surge in the state, Rubio has hit recent troubles following his poor performance in the Saturday debate and onslaught of attacks from other establishment candidates. Both Christie and Bush have relentlessly attacked Rubio on the radio and TV, with Christie publicly calling out Rubio for his inexperience and inauthenticity in the last debate. That being said, many in the state view him as the clear "establishment" option and best alternative to Trump and Cruz.
Donald Trump is expected to win the State of New Hampshire, capturing 5 delegates for his share of the vote along with the leftover 3 from those who fail to reach the 10 percent threshold, bringing him to a total of 8 delegates. Trump has led the polls in the state since announcing his candidacy in mid-June. New Hampshire, sticking true to its “Live Free or Die” roots, has a tendency to support anti-government outsiders. For many, Trump is the clear choice for all those tired of traditional politicians. Trump polls exceedingly well in the conservative southern parts of the state and to the far north where people are pro-gun and anti-government. Hindering Trump is his lack of intimacy in the state. Trump has only spent 27 days there and tends to hold huge rallies over small and personal events, something that the people of New Hampshire value. Following his 2nd place finish in Iowa, Trump has seen his polling drop while the more "establishment" figures have narrowed the gap by attacking him for lack of substance and lack of experience. While many polls still have Trump with a double-digit lead, the pressure is on for Trump as Rubio and Kasich are right on his heels.
With nearly 30 percent of voters undecided and a recent poor debate performance from Rubio, New Hampshire will have a compelling finish among the top candidates. The road to the White House considerably narrows after the Granite State. Statistics historically show that a win in the New Hampshire increases the odds of winning the nomination by nearly 27 percent; a strong or weak showing for each candidate will have major effects heading in to Convention Weekend 2016.
Thanks to the Mock Convention Political Team and New Hampshire State Chair Conor Ridlon for their hard work on this prediction.