Post-Iowa Polls (Republican)

My take on Iowa’s impacts was that Trump would hold strong in New Hampshire but take a national hit. Let’s see how I did!

In the last two days we got a slew of polls done entirely after the Iowa result. Two were national (Public Policy Polling and Quinnipiac) and four from New Hampshire (CNNAmerican Research Group, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and UMass). What can they teach us?

Let’s start with the national polls’ horse race numbers:

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I won’t spend too much time on these national polls since there has only been two of them since Iowa — a small sample size — and they can shift pretty dramatically after primary results. However, I will note the following:

  • Both polls show that Iowa has helped solidify the top three.
  • In the PPP, Trump is down nine points and Rubio up eight since the last national PPP poll seven weeks ago, but these latest numbers are unusual for any survey. The last time Trump had a national poll this bad was in mid-November when he hit 24 in a Bloomberg poll26 national polls ago. As for Rubio, the last time he hit 21 this primary cycle was . . . never. He hit 18 back in April and nothing that high since. (I swear some people were saying the Iowa caucuses weren’t that important.)
  • The Gilmore comeback continues! Look out, Carly. You’re next!

But now let’s turn to what’s right in front of us — New Hampshire. Here are the four horse race figures, and I’ve showed their percent change from each pollster’s last pre-Iowa poll.

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The first thing that jumps out is how well Trump has held on. He’s generally polling as well as he was right before the caucuses. As I expected, he may have suffered nationally, but his strength in New Hampshire continues, and a win there can set aright his national polls.

Meanwhile, Rubio got his expected pop. The CNN and NBC polls shows a 7- and 6-point jump in the last week — taking mostly from establishment rival Christie — while the ARG shows a healthy 4-point jump — taking from Kasich and Bush, who have their eye on a top three finish. UMass has him up five taking from Trump, the guy he’s trying to catch for the New Hampshire win. These are all good pieces of news for the senator from Florida.

But will he, in fact, catch Trump? It’s looking unlikely. Here are Huffington Post’s New Hampshire trendlines over the last week:

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Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, Bush, Christie, Carson, Fiorina

There has been a distinct down-tick in Trump’s trends while Rubio has almost exactly mirrored it in his climb. You can even see Iowa’s course correction on February 1. While it’s irresponsible to think both of those angles will continue at the same rate for the next four days heading into Tuesday’s primary, we can expect Rubio to continue to close the gap. Without a major development, however, it’s unlikely he can close it all the way. Rubio probably would sign for a second place finish if offered it today, as it clicks with his 3-2-1 strategy. His best shot at a win is that Trump’s numbers are again softer than they appear.

After Trump and Rubio, we’re really down to only three other competitive candidates. Confirming the Huffington’s Post numbers are the New Hampshire Real Clear Politics averages of the field:

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Christie’s run at the nomination seems as over as Fiorina’s. He’s closer to her polling and trendlines than he is Bush’s, and Bush himself is well back of second place. As New Hampshire voters make their final decisions, they are unlikely to turn to the fading candidate. You can expect Christie and Fiorina departures by Wednesday.

Instead, the next group of Granite State candidates now only hosts Cruz, Kasich, and Bush. Of the three it looks like Bush is headed toward fifth place. Both Huffington Post and RCP suggest he has stagnated at close to 10 points, while Cruz and Kasich show some life. It’s not over for Bush if he turns on the juice in the next four days, but Bush’s considerable money has never afford him a reliable juice maker.


Let’s also take a moment to look deeper into some of the polls. Here is what I found as the most relevant secondary metric of each of these surveys.

CNN (2/2-2/4)–Have you made up your mind?

  • Definitely: 41%
  • Leaning: 25%
  • Still trying to decide: 34%

As expected, we have a ton of undecideds less than one week out. If we say half of those “leaners” are swayable, we’re looking at half the New Hampshire electorate being up for grabs. That will make for an exciting few days of polling, culminating in the primary’s exit polls and actual results themselves.

ARG–Independents’ preference; Likelihood to vote

One of the quirks of the New Hampshire Primary is that independents can vote in either party’s primary. This factor’s permutations will be talked about a lot in the days ahead. For example, will independents who like Sanders see his 20-point lead and decide to instead affect the closer Republican race, thereby actually hurting Sanders’s ceiling? It’s hard to know. As far as the independents who already self-identify as likely Republican voters, here is how their preferences compare to registered Republicans:

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Kasich’s strategy of reaching out to moderates in New Hampshire might pay off. He sees a 50 percent increase with undeclared voters compared to his numbers with registered Republicans. Trump expectedly ticks up as well, while Cruz holds and establishment Floridians Rubio and Bush take a hit, as does Christie.

The ARG poll also asked how likely voters were to vote on a scale of one to ten. Here’s what they said:

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Here we have another great sign for Kasich and also for Rubio. Trump and Cruz take huge hits! Hmmm…

NBC/Wall Street Journal–Second Choice candidate

If we do see a lot of minds changed before Tuesday, who is in a good position to grow their support? Here are second choice preferences among those who are Republican or independents planning on voting in the GOP Primary:

  1. Rubio 20
  2. Cruz 16
  3. Christie 11
  4. Trump 10
  5. Bush 9
  6. Fiorina 8
  7. Kasich 8
  8. Carson 7
  9. Other/Undecided 12

Rubio continues to be in a great position to continue his surge, as does Cruz. This looks like a Trump underperformance, but I actually think that’s a healthy result. Remember, at 30 points, he won this NBC poll by 13. He could only pull from 70 percent of Republican-leaners when it came to second choice, a lot smaller pool than his competitors.

Interestingly, Christie is a popular second choice, but the second choice numbers are actually pretty spread out after Rubio and Cruz. We see six candidates between Christie’s 11 and Carson’s 7. While the Christie Campaign is counting on siphoning those second choice voters away from their first choice, it’s far more likely to be an even distribution if people do start changing their minds.

UMass–Education Breakdown

One of the most fascinating trends I’ve been following is education background of each candidate’s supporters. We see more of the same pattern with the UMass survey:

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The more educated you are, the less likely you are to be a fan of Donald Trump. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be a fan of John Kasich and Chris Christie. That Trump high school category is mind-blowing. Nearly half of Republican-leaning New Hampshirites who didn’t go to college plan to vote for him. They’re three-and-a-half times more likely to vote for him than Rubio. But if you look at those with a graduate degree, the difference is negligible. Interesting, right?


Considering all of these polls, my four-days-out prediction for New Hampshire is: Trump, Rubio, Kasich/Cruz, Bush, Christie. Gun to my head, Kasich turns out enough independents to hold off Cruz for third, but that’s the closest race here.

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