Friday, December 4, 2015

Say it Aint So New Hampshire

That's my response to a new PPP poll which shows Chris Christie surging.

"PPP's new New Hampshire poll finds Donald Trump's position in the state pretty much unchanged compared to six weeks ago. He leads with 27% to 13% for Ted Cruz, 11% for Marco Rubio, 10% for Chris Christie, 9% for Ben Carson, 8% for John Kasich, 6% for Carly Fiorina, 5% for Jeb Bush, and 4% for Rand Paul. Rounding out the field in the 1% or less club are Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum each at 1%, and Lindsey Graham and Jim Gilmore with less than 1%."

"The clear momentum candidate in New Hampshire is Chris Christie. In mid-October he was in 9th place in the state at just 3%. Now he's moved all the way up into the 4th position with his 10% standing. Most remarkably though he now has the best favorability rating of any of the candidates in New Hampshire, with 61% of voters seeing him positively to only 22% who have a negative opinion. To put those numbers in perspective Christie was at 35/46 when we polled the state in August, so he's had a 50 point net improvement in his favorability over the last three months. That's a good reminder of how early it still is in this race and how much things can change in a short time. Christie is the most frequent second choice of Bush and Kasich voters so if either of them doesn't make it to New Hampshire he'll be well positioned to further gain."

See also:

Jesus Chrsitmas! Why him, Why not anyone but him? There is literally no one more loathsome on this race than this proud, prevaricating bully. Unless you're talking about Carly Fiorina.

As it turns out, his own state of NJ feels the same as I do.

Yet, other than Christie's rise, I like what these poll numbers say. Ted Cruz is on the rise:

"The only other candidate with any momentum in the Granite State is Ted Cruz, who's moved from being in 6th place at 8% in October to now second place with his 13% standing. We continue to see Cruz with growing strength among voters on the right everywhere we poll- he's almost even among 'very conservative' voters in New Hampshire, getting 27% to Trump's 29%. Cruz is also the most frequent second choice of primary voters at 14% to 13% for Rubio and 12% for Christie. Importantly he's the second choice of 26% of Trump voters to 14% for Christie with no one else in double digits. If Trump's support ever does wear away Cruz is positioned to be the greatest beneficiary of that."

And on general principle, I always enjoy bad news for Jeb Bush. Just because. Ditto, John Kasich

"There are two candidates these numbers are particularly bad for: Jeb Bush and John Kasich, both of whom might be the victims of Christie's renewed strength. Bush has dropped from 5th place at 9% last month down now to 8th place at 5% this month. He continues to really struggle with GOP voters just flat not liking him- only 38% have a positive opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. His unfavorability rating ties him with George Pataki for the worst with New Hampshire Republicans."
"Kasich was in double digits and in the top 4 on both our August and October New Hampshire polls but is now seeing his standing slip with his 6th place showing at 8%. Kasich's also seen his favorability rating drop from 49/22 in August to then 45/29 in October to now standing at just 38/35. The more NH Republicans get to know him the less they like him, and that doesn't bode well for a candidate whose relevance in the race is probably predicated on a strong performance in New Hampshire."
"For Jeb to be in eighth place at 5% in NH is as Trump puts it a disaster. The thing to remember is that Jeb like Christie and Kasich is putting all his chips on NH. If he does this poorly here it's impossible to see where he comes back. "
"While I hate Christie, it does occur to me that there is an upside to his rise."
It comes at the expense of Jeb, Kasich-and, perhaps most importantly, Marco Rubio. Many like myself have assumed that Rubio would replace Jeb as the great establishment hope. But while he did have a jump in the polls after the third GOP debate-at the expense of Jeb-he has been pretty flat since. 
What isn't clear is what state he is actually in line to win at this point.
If it isn't NH, then when is it? Yet, Christie's rise with that accompanying endorsement from the NH Union Leader is terrible news for Rubio. If Christie ends up doing the best among establishment GOP in NH that could really hobble Rubio going forward. 
As for Christie, should he do well in NH, it still isn't clear where he wins next. NH is hardly destiny. Christie may not be able to win anywhere else but by taking NH, he could take out Rubio. 
When I say 'do well' I mean either win outright or win among the establishment candidates. Trump looks very strong in NH. As long as he has a decent ground game-and the reports are that he actually does-NH should be his to win.
But for Christie to win, he would only need to come first among the establishment candidates-Jeb, Kasich, Rubio, and you can include Fiorina in this group. Technically Fiorina is like Trump and Carson an outsider to politics. 
But she is widely seen as running a conventional Republican campaign unlike Trump or Carson. The establishment would find her much more acceptable than either Trump, Carson, or Cruz. 
It also seems that in the battle of Tea Party Cuban Senators, Cruz is doing fairly well. He now is second overall in NH. If he were to finish second in NH-after quite likely finishing first or second in Iowa-this would be a major coup as he was never considered to be the kind of candidate that wins in NH. 
Overall, the establishment has a real worry in NH. First of all, all of these candidates are staking a lot in the state. Jeb, Kasich, Fiorina, and Christie are all in here, and Rubio himself really needs it. 
If you add up the numbers of these five you get 40%. The problem is there are way too many establishment candidates. You have to think that if you're the establishment you wish some would leave the race before NH like Scott Walker did. 
If Jeb and Kasich both left, arguably Christie could have a shot at winning the state outright. Kasich has been full tilt against Trump for months. He has put out those anti Trump ads. Would he actually be willing to step aside to derail Trump? 
Probably not. That's the trouble-with super PACS why not just keep going and going? But that's the only real hope for the establishment-a winnowed field. 
Nate Silver keeps saying that 25% to 30% aren't enough to win the primary. It is when there are 13 other candidates. 
P.S. Of course, if Carson were to leave Trump would have 36% in NH and a lot more nationally. Yes, the combined establishment has 40% in NH but Trump, Carson, and Cruz have 49%. And that's NH which is supposed to be a more moderate state. It's even worse nationally. 

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