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Diplomacy in Action

The New Hampshire Primary: State of the Race as New Hampshire Goes to the Polls

Andrew Smith, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH
February 8, 2016

6:00 P.M. EST


OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the New Hampshire Primary call with Professor Andrew Smith. At this time, all participants are in a listen only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session and instruction will be given at that time. Should you require assistance during the call, please press * then 0. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I’d like to now turn the conference over to your host, Mr. Andy Strike. Go ahead, please.

MODERATOR: Hello, everyone. I want to thank folks for dialing in today. On behalf of the State Department’s Foreign Press Center, I, Andy Strike, would like to introduce Professor Andrew Smith, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire and director of the UNH Survey Center. He’s going to talk about the New Hampshire Primary: The State of the Race as New Hampshire Goes to the Polls. We’re doing this call at this time because the professor now has polling data that has just – the last polling data that he’s going to collect before the vote. So he’s going to be able to talk about that and other matters. So he’ll give brief remarks, and then we’ll move to a Q and A session. And if you want to get in the question queue, press *1 on your phone and follow the instructions of the operator, the AT&T operator. So without further ado, here is Professor Smith. Please go ahead.

MR SMITH: Good evening. Thanks for joining the call. I’m here in Manchester, New Hampshire, the center of the political universe right now and some of you are here. You know that it’s quite an exciting place to be. I want to give a little bit of a background to – so to put some of the data that I’ll talk about in context.

First off, New Hampshire is different than any other of the early nomination contests in that it has very, very high voter turnout. In 2008, we had 54 percent of the eligible voters voted. The secretary of state expects similar numbers this year, although we are in the midst of a snow storm and that might dampen turnout a little bit. By comparison, Iowa typically has 9 to 10 percent or so turnout in the Iowa caucuses. And that’s important because in New Hampshire it’s not political activists who determine who wins or loses here, it’s regular voters who generally are far less informed and far less ideological and far less personally tied to any of the candidates. And that’s why when we talk about polling it’s crucial to keep in mind that these voters, for the most part, are not firmly locked down in their support of any candidate. To give you an example, on the Republican side right now in our most recent poll, only 46 percent of Republicans say they’ve definitely decided who they’re going to vote for. That means more than half of the voters the day before the election haven’t decided who they’re going to support yet.

On the Democratic side, there is more support. It’s about 65 percent support there. But that also means that roughly a third of the voters haven’t made up their mind the day before the election. So when you hear polling data and look at polling data – either mine or anybody else’s – keep in mind that a lot can happen between now and tomorrow that will disprove the polls – or could disprove the polls, I guess would be a better way of saying that. And I say that as somebody who’s been doing this since 2000 in New Hampshire. Polls are wrong as often and perhaps more often than they are right in New Hampshire, and that’s because so few people have made up their minds. And so when we finish polling Saturday night or Sunday afternoon because they had to cut off for the Super Bowl and a little bit today in the morning, there are still many, many, many people who haven’t decided yet, and I anticipate that things could move around quite a bit between what we see in the final polls and election day tomorrow.

So that said, I’ll just touch briefly on the Democratic race and the Republican race. The Democratic race – we’re still seeing Bernie Sanders with about 60 percent; Clinton about 35 percent. That hasn’t narrowed much in our view. That’s a race that’s going to be dependent upon turnout. What we’re seeing is that younger voters – that is, people under 35 – and people who have never voted in a primary – are backing Bernie Sanders by extraordinarily high numbers, 84 percent or so. And high turnout would mean that Sanders could win this race with a huge margin.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump is still leading, but there is a tight, tight cluster of candidates for second place. I think any of the candidates – Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marci Rubio, or Ted Cruz – could finish anywhere between second and fifth place. I think it’s a race that is in that much flux that we’re really going to have to wait ‘til tomorrow to see what happens with it.

So with that, I’d be happy to answer any more specific questions either about the primary, or about what is likely to happen tomorrow, or maybe why some of those things are likely to happen.

MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, press * then 1. You’ll hear a tone indicating you’ve been placed in queue. You may take yourself from queue by pressing the # key. For any questions now, it’s * then 1.

All right. Our first question is from Inga Czerny. She’s with PAP. Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: Yes. Hello. Thank you. PAP, Polish Press Agency. Hello, professor. Could you please tell us how do you expecting the independent voters to vote? And how they voted in the previous elections, primaries? Thank you.

MR SMITH: Sure. Thank you for asking that question, because one of the biggest misconceptions about New Hampshire is the role of independents in the primary. In New Hampshire, you can register as either a Democrat, a Republican, or you can register undeclared. And undeclared, I think, are, unfortunately, referred to as independents in New Hampshire, both by people here as well as media.

Currently about 30 percent of the registered voters in the state are registered as Republicans; about 26, 27 percent are registered as Democrats; and about 44 percent are registered undeclared. And it’s misleading to call them independents, because most of them – the great majority of them – are either Republicans or Democrats. It varies a little bit over time, but about 35 to 38 percent are really Democrats, about 30 to 33 percent are really Republicans, and about 30 percent are truly independent. Those people who are truly independent are the least likely people to vote in the primary tomorrow. They’re independent, by and large, because they don’t follow politics much. They’re not very interested politics. And if they vote, they’ll vote in a presidential election, not usually primary elections.

Both by studying public opinion polls and by looking at actual voting results, the actual percentage of voters who might vote – or who might consider taking a Republican ballot or a Democratic ballot is between 3 and 7 percent. It varies a little bit from election to election, but it’s a much, much smaller percentage of the overall electorate than that 44 percent that they consist of with registered voters, the percent who are registered undeclared.

Now, the thing that’s – the better way to understand those undeclareds is to think of them as three groups. Undeclared voters who are really Republicans, they behave like Republicans, they vote in the Republican primary, they’re a little bit less interested and concerned about politics as are registered Republicans and they turn out at a little bit lower rate. The other group, the second group, is those registered Republican – or, excuse me, those registered undeclared but they’re really Democrats. They act and behave like Democrats, they vote like Democrats, they are – tend to be a little bit younger than do – than our registered Democrats. But they turn out at lower levels. And then those truly independent – truly independent undeclared voters just don’t really vote that much.

So what we’re seeing this time – we had been seeing that the undeclareds who are really Republicans were much more energized in this race, therefore they were more likely to say that they were going to participate and made a higher percentage of the overall pool of undeclareds who are going to vote in the Republican primary. That’s shifted a bit over the last weeks as the Democratic race became more interesting, and it looks like Bernie Sanders – the Bernie Sanders/Clinton race heated up as well and has energized Democrats. So we’re seeing about equal numbers of the undeclared voters going for the Republican primary and the Democratic primary. But again, that’s just because both parties’ undeclareds that are really partisans, really members – really consistently vote for that party, are equally energized. I hope that isn’t – that’s – undeclared, unfortunately, is a very cumbersome, awkward word, but I think it more accurately describes what these people are like than using the term independent.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Mr. Borisenko, your line is open.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, professor. Hello? Hello?

MR SMITH: Hello.

QUESTION: Yeah. Good evening, professor. Igor Borisenko with TASS, Russia news agency. On the webpage of the secretary of state of New Hampshire, I’ve seen a very interesting sub-note. They put a post commemorating the New Hampshire presidential direct primary election 100th anniversary, 1916 to 116 (sic). Do you really have a 100th primary today, or is it some sort of a, well, historic sub-note?

MR SMITH: It is the 100th anniversary. It’s the 25th primary, because the primary only occurs every four years. Yes, it’s the 100th anniversary of the year that the primary was first started in 1916. In 1916, we did not have the first primary that year; Indiana did. But Indiana by 1920 had moved its primary back to May. So New Hampshire has had the first in the nation primary since 1920.

QUESTION: 1920. Okay. Great. Thank you very much for explanation.

MR SMITH: You’re welcome.

MODERATOR: Next up is Celia Cernadas with Catalunya Radio, [Spain].

QUESTION: Hello. Good afternoon, and thank you very much for your conference and your help. I would like you to make us a profile about the New Hampshire voter population in terms of social background, religion, race. I mean, a lot of – was said about the Iowa profile and that determined the final result. So to what extent New Hampshire in these terms is representative? Because I don't think Bernie Sanders – for example, if the polls are saying that they’re going to win for – with 60 percent, I don’t think it’s going to happen in the rest of the country. So can you explain us a little bit about that? Thank you.

MR SMITH: Sure. New Hampshire is not demographically representative of the United States. It’s an overwhelmingly white state – about 91, 92 percent of the state are white, are Caucasians. And among adults, that’s about 96 percent. It’s a pretty affluent state. I think, depending on how you measure it, it’s one of the top five wealthiest states in the country on terms of per-capita income. It’s relatively old. We’ve been getting older as the country as, but we’re one of the older states in the country. That doesn’t mean that we are – have a lot of people that are senior citizens or are very old; we just have a lot of people that are in the age group from like 40 to 60 years old.

Another thing about the state is that almost all of the population is concentrated in the southeast corner of the state. The – there’s a – if you drew a line from Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the seacoast over to Concord, New Hampshire, and then down to the Massachusetts border, about two thirds of the population lives in that area there. Most of the – most of that population is living in relatively suburban areas. Manchester and Nashua are cities, but they’re not by large by any standards. Manchester is about 110-, 115,000 people; Nashua is about 85,000 people.

So the state’s largely suburban; the population of the state is largely suburban or in small towns close to greater Boston. The rest of the state is very rural, mountainous, and not very many people live there. That’s why when candidates come to New Hampshire, they spend almost all of their time in the southeast corner of the state, because that’s where the votes are. And so the state’s not representative of the people demographically.

In terms of politics, though, it is somewhat representative of the state. There are slightly more people who identify as Democrats than Republicans, but Republicans are competitive in political races here. The Republican electorate here – so the Republican primary electorate – tends to be moderate to – moderate Republicans. Forty five percent consider themselves either moderate or liberals, and that’s quite different than what we see in the rest of the country.

And the Democratic electorate is – tends to be more liberal than most of the country. It’s a high-income, high-education party on the Democratic side. It’s (inaudible) economic and social elite party on the Democratic side than it is on the Republican side. Republican voters here tend to be more middle class and say small business guys than the Democrats are.

QUESTION: And may I ask a follow-up?


QUESTION: Would you have expected this surge, Bernie Sanders’ surge, some months ago? Taking into account what you already told me about the age and the type of portrait of the Democrat voters in New Hampshire?

MR SMITH: Yes I would, actually. Historically – actually, we’ve been seeing Sanders leading in our polls here since the fall. I think back in September, October is when he first passed Clinton. But he’d been doing quite well even since the summertime. And it’s not expected – unexpected historically. The Democratic primary electorate has historically had about 35 to 45 percent of their voters support a candidate who’s not the party’s choice – so not the person who the party really wants to win. For example, this year Hillary Clinton certainly is the person that the party wanted to win this race. So 35 to 45 percent prefer somebody other than the party’s choice, and that person is typically the more liberal, more progressive, more left-leaning candidate.

And you can see this all the way back in 1968 when Eugene McCarthy almost defeated then President Lyndon Johnson; in 1972, George McGovern, a very liberal antiwar senator from South Dakota, almost beat Ed Muskie, who had been the vice presidential candidate in 1968. But more recently, we saw that Bill Bradley got 46 percent of the vote in 2000, Howard Dean almost won here in 2004, and Barack Obama almost won here in 2008. So the – there’s always been a nice size bloc of progressive voters or liberal voters in the state that have – been attracted to a more outside or more progressive candidate.

Sanders I think is doing extremely well largely because there’s – I think the Democratic Party here is undergoing kind of a generational changeover. The older Democrats who dominated the party since the 1960s, the baby boomers, they’re either retiring or dying or moving out of the state, and they’re not as dominant as they once were in politics. And the Democrats that are following them have grown up in a different era. For them, socialism doesn’t mean the Cold War or the gulags in the Soviet Union. It means, perhaps, going to France or going to other places in Europe that are social democracies. So it’s lost much of the stigma that it’s had in the past.

Similarly, younger women have grown up in a different era where their college professors are much more likely to have been women. They probably have had women as bosses. And they don’t understand the same level of sexism that maybe their mothers or their grandmothers experienced before them, and they just see the world in a different way and are much, much more attracted by Bernie Sanders. I think, as I mentioned earlier, that among people under the age of 35 voting in the Democratic primary, 85 percent say they’re going to vote for Sanders. And among who have never voted in the primary, 84 percent say they’re going to vote for Sanders. And it’s true among men and women. While men are slightly more – young men are slightly more likely to vote for Sanders, women under 35, it’s about 79 – 75 to 80 percent of women under 35 say they’re going to vote for Sanders.

Another important change that’s happened over the last 10 years or so – actually it’s been ongoing, but in the last eight years – I have some measures on this – one third of the potential voters in New Hampshire, between 2008 and 2015, are different people than – different people completely. About 12 percent were people that were not old enough to vote in 2000, and about 18 percent are people that did not live in the state in 2008 but who had moved here. So it’s a very, very different electorate.

And while we’re seeing – the political impact of that is that those newer – the younger voters in particular are much more likely to say they’re politically liberal. And the impact that that’s had is in 2008, 40 percent of the Democratic primary electorate that year – that was the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama election – 40 percent of the Democratic primary electorate considered themselves liberal in politics. This year it’s 51 percent who consider themselves liberal. And those liberals are going very heavily towards Bernie Sanders.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you very much.

MR SMITH: You’re welcome.

MODERATOR: All right. Our next question is from Juliano Basile with Valor Economico.

QUESTION: Hello. Thank you for doing this. I’m Juliano Basile from Valor Economico, Brazilian newspaper. I would like to know what time are we going to be able to know the results, and what the results can tell us for South Carolina. Can you make a difference between New Hampshire and South Carolina for us?

MR SMITH: Sure. The polls close tomorrow at 7 o’clock, 7:30, or 8 o’clock. Some – the towns get to determine how late their polls stay open. So 8 o’clock is when almost all of the polls will be closed. That said, some towns may have too many people at 8 o’clock and they have a line of people, so they will put somebody at the end of the line where the end of the line is at 8 o’clock, and all of those people will have the opportunity to vote, even though it’s past the official voting time, so some towns may come in later.

Manchester, the largest city’s polls close at 7:00. And they’re typically counted and approved by just after 8 o’clock and are usually released pretty quickly. Manchester will tell us on the Democratic side, I believe, how the state is going to go. Hillary Clinton has to win Manchester to have any chance of winning this election. In truth, she has to win 55 to 60 percent of the vote in Manchester to win this election. If Bernie Sanders gets 50 percent to 60 percent of the Manchester vote, Sanders will win by a large margin. So we should be able to tell on the Democratic side fairly quickly which way that election is going to go.

On the Republican side, it’s much more difficult, because the Republican support for the various candidates is not concentrated in one area like Manchester, where Manchester is dominated by more blue collar, traditional, older Democrats. The Republican vote tends to be spread around the state much more evenly. You don’t see pockets that allow you to distinguish support from one kind of a Republican candidate or another kind of Republican. So the Republican vote could go on for some time. I think we’ll be able to – we’ll be able to tell pretty quickly, 9:00, 10 o’clock or so who’s going to win. But the second, third, fourth, and fifth place I think is going to take much, much longer.

Now as far as the impact of New Hampshire on South Carolina, it’s usually quite large. New Hampshire has historically been the one state that has been most important in winning the nomination. You don’t have to win New Hampshire, but you really have to finish first or second. The winner of New Hampshire I believe on the Democratic side – maybe put a couple scenarios out for you. If Bernie Sanders wins big on the Democratic side, he is likely to be a large favorite going into Nevada and South Carolina, and that he – the polls in those states will likely change fairly quickly to increase support for Bernie Sanders. Because it’s a sequential process and momentum from winning the early states is critically important to winning later states.

The Republican side’s going to be more interesting, because there are, first off, more candidates, and support is not concentrated into two candidates yet. And so what we’ll probably see is if Donald Trump wins, it goes – actually, before I get ahead of myself, let me give my other scenario for the Democratic side. If Hillary Clinton does better than expected – and by that I mean losing by, say, single digits – then it becomes a – it makes her still a viable candidate going into South Carolina and Nevada and it will make those races much closer. It will keep – help prevent some of that bandwagon effect that’s likely to occur if she suffers a large loss. And if Hillary Clinton should win here, I think then Bernie Sanders probably won’t have a chance of winning the nomination because Clinton just has too much support within the party organization to – that Sanders, I don’t believe, will be able to overcome it.

But the Republicans are quite different. If Donald Trump wins big here, there’s a good chance that he becomes the nominee. If he loses here, all bets are off, and I really don’t have any guess what would happen in South Carolina. The Republican field this year and the Republican primary is very unusual and actually fun to watch but very unpredictable.

QUESTION: All right, thank you.

MR SMITH: Thanks.

OPERATOR: All right. We now have Yashwant Raj. He’s with Hindustan Times, [India].

QUESTION: Yeah, that’s Hindustan Times. Thank you. Thank you for doing this.

MR SMITH: Thank you.

QUESTION: Could I ask you about Donald Trump, and if you could explain the massive lead he has over the rest of the field in New Hampshire and for a long time now? And also, the rest of the Republican field – I mean, as you said in your opening remarks, the fight – the battle there is really for the number-two slot. I mean, there are four guys jostling for it. So if you could explain why Trump is doing so well and why the second slot is such a close fight between four guys.

MR SMITH: Sure. First, Donald Trump is the first person we’ve had who’s run for president that’s a modern celebrity. He had a top-10 rated television show for 10 years in a row and he’s very good at projecting an image of himself on television. And so we tend to discount how famous he was before he ran.

Number two, he has enormous amounts of money and resources, which makes it easier for him to run and easy for him to make what I think is one of his central messages, and that is that he’s not of Washington, he’s not one of the people who are special interests, and that he can’t be bought. So he’s kind of portraying himself as the honest candidate in the field, and that, I think, is particularly salient to Democratic voter – or, excuse me, to Republican voters because the Republicans feel they’ve been let down by their party.

First off, they believe they should have won the 2012 election, and they nominated a more moderate candidate who was unable to win. Secondly, they’ve – when they have elected majorities in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, those majorities seem incapable of either overturning unpopular laws passed by the Obama Administration or even stopping the Obama Administration from going forward, including on things like increasing spending and going into debt even more. So there’s a real animosity among a lot of those Republican voters against its party leaders itself, so the people who are doing best are people who can demonstrate that they’re not part of the party – that they are outsiders, that they will go in and essentially sweep the – sweep the old guard aside.

A similar sort of – and I think that’s easier to do that, because economically, while New Hampshire is doing pretty well, there’s still a lot of economic unease in the country. We haven’t – while we’ve recovered the jobs that we had since the recession, there’s just not the sense of economic growth that usually the United States sees coming out of a recession, and I think there are a lot of people that are just economically uneasy. And you see it on the Democratic side as well, and I think a lot of the support for Bernie Sanders and especially support from young people comes from folks who are – who have not succeeded economically, who may have graduated from college and they are left with large college debts but no real good job prospects. So that animosity is there for – against the party and this sense of angst is there, I think, among both parties, and that’s one of the reasons I think Donald Trump is leading.

As far as the other candidates, none of – Ted Cruz is a more traditional conservative, a more traditional social conservative in particular, who can typically win a state like Iowa. So Rick Santorum won that in 2012, Mike Huckabee won it in 2008, and even Pat Robertson, who is a minister, won that back in, I believe, 19 – was it 1996, I believe? Maybe it was 1992. My memory is getting foggy. But there have been many times where social conservatives have won in Iowa, which is a much more conservative state on the Republican side.

So he’s not going to do that well here simply because we don’t – Ted Cruz fits that mold but he won’t do that well in New Hampshire because there just aren’t that many social conservatives in the state. So he’s got kind of a ceiling on what – where he can go. But as far as the other candidates, the governors – and I would put Marco Rubio in the mix with them as well – the more moderate, mainstream Republicans, kind of traditional Republicans – there simply are too many of them in the field to allow one of them to separate themselves from the rest. And as a consequence, they continue to split that vote and it’s unable to consolidate behind one candidate, which will allow Trump to possibly win here or likely win here, but not with a – anywhere near a majority support, but just a plurality support.

I hope that helps, but I can’t completely explain the Donald Trump phenomena.

QUESTION: Yes. In New Hampshire, for instance, I mean, which is, as you said – is one of the five richest states in the country and the economic crisis is not as tellingly in your face there as in other parts of the country, and yet, I mean, Trump is doing so well. There was this whole narrative about his appeal to the white, uneducated or less, educated, less affluent. That narrative doesn’t kind of – does it work in New Hampshire?

MR SMITH: The thing that’s fascinating about Trump – and I think this is something that a lot of people overlook because they – people like to have shorthand explanations for why somebody is succeeding that are easily proven demographically. But Trump’s doing quite well. He’s doing better than any other candidate among almost every demographic group in the – on the Republican field in New Hampshire. So his support is the broadest of any candidate.

Yes, he’s doing somewhat better among blue-collar folks, but he’s also doing well among wealthy people. He’s also doing pretty good among Republicans who are – have post-graduate educations. He’s doing pretty good among women. Obviously, New Hampshire is almost exclusively white, so that – the racial issue is beside the point. So he’s tapping into a level of anxiety, angst, and political anger against the party establishment that is very broad, which tells me that the Republican Party has a serious, serious problem, and Donald Trump is just more a symptom of the problem than the cause of it.

The other thing about the Republican Party and Donald Trump – and this is a harder one to measure – it’s not a class issue in the traditional sense of economic class or education class, but he is doing very, very, very well with the Republicans who are non-religious, people who don’t attend – who never attend churches, so people who are – have grown up in a new era, who haven’t been grounded in the religious mores of their parents or grandparents, and for whom a person like Donald Trump doesn’t seem like an unusual person to support.

QUESTION: Thank you. One small follow-up and then I’ll be off your --

MR SMITH: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does he have – he supposedly lost in Iowa or he came second because he didn’t have a ground game there, and he in fact said in an interview that he doesn’t know what the phrase means. But does he have a ground game in New Hampshire, or he doesn’t need one? Because as you said, voters in New Hampshire vote on their own, they don’t need to be mobilized, they don’t need to be bussed to --

MR SMITH: Right. I think that his ground game in New Hampshire is significantly worse than any of the other candidates, and he claimed that he was going to have a ground game in New Hampshire, but you can’t put that together in a week. The other campaigns have been putting their ground games and get-out-the-vote efforts together for months and months and months starting in the early summer. So I don’t think that Trump has anywhere near the organizational strength that the other campaigns have.

But that said, I think you’re right that Trump has a level of celebrity that may – that it may not matter that he needs to have ground game. Certainly, a state like Iowa needs one much more than New Hampshire because you have to convince people in those states to go out and spend two to three hours on a cold night to go to the caucuses, whereas in the New Hampshire primary, you just have to show up and vote and take five minutes or so.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Professor. This was really great talking to you. Thank you.

OPERATOR: All right. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, it’s * then 1.

All right. Our next question is from Inga Czerny with PAP again.

QUESTION: Yes, yes. Thank you, Professor. Professor, could you also please explain to us how – how do you explain the relatively good position of John Kasich in New Hampshire? Of course, we know that he invested a lot, he has – he was traveling back. Could you please tell us more about people who actually who will vote for him? Thank you.

MR SMITH: Sure. Kasich would be a good candidate in New Hampshire if Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and Chris Christie were not running. He’d have a really good chance of winning. He’s a moderate Republican, he has experience as a governor, he has experience in D.C. Those things are usually attractive to the more mainstream, traditional Republicans in the state.

I think the problem that he has is that he was, first off, less well known than the other candidates, and secondly, that he, I think, has made a strategic error in thinking that he could win by winning the Independent voters, the undeclared voters. And I think he pitched his campaign too far to the political left within the Republican Party. And it doesn’t really matter if he did or not or if his past really was that he was a conservative or not. It’s that that’s the perception that’s out there among a lot of Republicans that he is – he’s too liberal, he’s running the campaign like John Huntsman did in 2012. Actually, he has the same senior advisor as Huntsman did in 2012, so it’s not surprising that he’s running a similar campaign.

But the thing about that strategy is that it assumes that there is this big block of Independent voters out there that are up – that are kind of political free agents up for the taking, and they’re just not. And historically, it’s been the case here that in the modern primary era since 1972, nobody has won their party’s – nobody has won the New Hampshire primary without winning a plurality of their party’s registered voters. So you have to win your party’s registered voters. The Independents or the undeclared voters might make a difference in the magnitude of your win, but you can’t win just by concentrating on them. And I think that was – by concentrating on those voters, it put Kasich out of the mainstream of the Republican Party and further to the left, and that’s left him open for pretty withering criticism from more conservative voices, particularly on talk radio and television, that have essentially said he’s a Democrat, he’s running in the wrong primary.

QUESTION: And may I ask another – one more question, please?


QUESTION: A follow-up on Bernie Sanders. Because we heard a lot that he’s so popular in New Hampshire because he comes from a neighboring state, from Vermont. Do you really share this opinion as well?

MR SMITH: I don’t think that that’s the case. I think that he was not well known at all when he started here, so it wasn’t as if he were a well-known commodity when he started to run. So early on in last summer when he first started getting into the race, he was largely unknown. Most people in New Hampshire don’t interact with Vermont very much. As I mentioned earlier, most of the population of the state is concentrated in the southeast corner of the state, which is essentially suburban Boston. And we watch Boston television, get Boston newspapers, go to Boston for dinner, and root for Boston sports teams. So Vermont is essentially – the Vermont border is essentially very lightly populated, and if anything, people from Vermont come to New Hampshire to buy things because we don’t have a sales tax. It’s not as if we spend too much time going into Vermont.

So – but that said, New England candidates do have an advantage, and I think the advantage comes from the fact that the voters in the surrounding states are pretty similar to New Hampshire voters. So for example, Democrats in Vermont are going to be similar to Democrats in New Hampshire, so it’s not a different message that Sanders has to pitch in New Hampshire to attract voters.

The one real advantage that I see that Sanders has is the proximity, just the closeness makes it easier for him to campaign him. So he can – he lives in Burlington or outside Burlington. He can drive from Burlington, Vermont to Manchester, New Hampshire in a couple hours. So you could leave in the morning, campaign all day, and then drive back home in the evening. Campaigning from home is a lot nicer than having to go on long trips and have your entourage stay in hotels and spend a lot of money that way. So it’s just easier to campaign if you’re from a neighboring state.

But I don’t buy too much into the fact that he’s a local person. Vermont and New Hampshire are similar, but they’re certainly not the same states. And there’s no real leg up that somebody from Vermont would have in New Hampshire because of some local – some interstate camaraderie that we have.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you. Thank you very much.

MR SMITH: Mm-hmm.

OPERATOR: Christoph von Marschall with Der Tagesspiegel, [Germany].

QUESTION: Yeah, hello. Sorry, I called in late because I was sitting in traffic because of the snow here in New Hampshire. And I just wanted to ask since I called in late maybe I got that wrong, but I heard you said that if Trump wins high he will be the nominee? Is that for sure?

MR SMITH: I think he most likely will be, yes.

QUESTION: Because I was at several events and I met a lot of so-called tactical voters, people who are only coming because they want to avoid Cruz or Trump will be the nominee. And these are Independents who come to the Bush, to the Kasich – Christie I don’t know that much (inaudible) – and this, it seems to me that this is a big wave and that a lot of people wanting to take part on the Republican side, not on the Democratic side, mainly for this reason to make sure that nor Trump nor Cruz will advance. And still my feeling is that Trump can win even maybe with a small two-digit lead, but does that mean winning big and being the nominee? More and more I get the feeling that 60 to 70 percent of the Republican voters share this feeling that anybody but Trump.

MR SMITH: Well, we are certainly seeing in our polls that 30 to 35 percent of Republican voters say they won’t vote for Trump under any circumstance. So in that sense he is the most divisive candidate within the party, but he’s also the – he’s the most disliked candidate, but he’s also the most liked candidate within the party. And if he wins with, say, 30 to 35 percent of the vote, that means that there’s – that the vote will be divvied up among those other candidates and he’ll have a fairly significant lead. And I think that that’s going to be treated by the press as a major win. The stories that will be written is about a Trump win. And then the other stories that will be written are why the mainstream candidates lost so badly and why does this foretell the death of the Republican Party. We’ll have gloom and doom stories about the other candidates, and those aren’t the kind of stories that are going to inspire voters in other states to support them. They’re going to be essentially post-mortems.

But so much of politics and so much of primary politics depends on setting expectations low and then exceeding them. And the problem that I think is the biggest problem that Trump has is that he has set expectations pretty high – in fact, he always talks about being a winner and the rest of the guys being losers – but he didn’t win in Iowa, and I think that damaged him somewhat. If he were to lose in New Hampshire, I think that he would be seriously damaged. However, if he’s able to win and win fairly convincingly here by 15 to 20 percentage points, that’s going to make him an even more formidable candidate in subsequent states.

QUESTION: And how much is the expectation game important versus the rules how to count delegates? Because I mean, just from the theoretical side, this race in in the Republican Party will not be decided before end of March at the earliest with the delegate side. So –

MR SMITH: You are absolutely right that delegates matter. But if it were only delegates that mattered, nobody would bother to campaign in New Hampshire because we have so few delegates; and because they’re awarded proportionally, nobody is going to come away from New Hampshire with very many delegates at all. They’ll all be split across any candidate who gets 10 percent or more of the vote.

So you’re right; delegates doesn’t matter, but it’s the momentum that you get from winning New Hampshire that is hugely important in determining what happens in the subsequent states.

New Hampshire has been bombarded with campaigns here for almost a year, or more than a year really, with millions and millions of dollars of campaign advertising and phone calls and all the other work. I think it’s over $200 million in television advertising alone. So we’ve had serious, intense campaigns here for a long time. Voters in the subsequent states have not had any kind – anywhere near that sort of campaign engagement. And what happens in those other states is typically that the winner of New Hampshire or the candidate who finishes a unexpectedly good second in New Hampshire will be able to use the momentum from that win to roll through those other states. Not that they – it will be over, but they will start to rack up so many delegates that it will make it almost impossible for the candidate who’s losing to turn the tide to stop that momentum and be able to win for themselves.

So the Republican race is usually over fairly quickly, but this year they have – they do have many, many more states with proportional allocation of delegates, and all states have proportional allocation until March 15th. After that, states can decide for themselves what they’re going to do.

So it could potentially go on a lot longer, especially if you see several candidates accruing blocs of delegates in multiple states, but that typically just hasn’t happened in the past. But then again, history doesn’t have to be consistent, does it?

QUESTION: And if I may, one last because that’s so interesting how you see that. Until now, Iowa and New Hampshire – this was mainly white – mainly white voters.


QUESTION: So even if somebody has momentum out of Iowa and New Hampshire – and I’m still thinking, of course, of somebody named Trump – he might have momentum under white, disenfranchised voters, but he will not get close to winning Latinos, Asians, African Americans. So I still can’t at all imagine how a road to victory could look for Trump, but maybe I have been too long outside of the country. (Laughter.)

MR SMITH: I think the simple answer is that the Republican Party is a most – a primarily white party across the country, and minorities are almost always in the Democratic Party. If there were significant Latino populations within the Republican Party, yes, that could be more difficult for him to win, but there really aren’t. So I don’t think that some of those things that you might think are – that would definitely be liabilities in a general election, aren’t necessarily liabilities in a primary campaign or a nomination struggle.

Certainly, they will be issues and concerns that many voters will consider and vote against Trump because they think it will make him a less electable general election candidate, but that requires a level of strategic voting that most voters just don’t have.

QUESTION: Thank you, thank you. That’s interesting.


OPERATOR: All right. We now have Zhenhua Lu with [21st Century] Business Herald, [China].

QUESTION: Yes, yes. My question is about the comparison in Iowa and in New Hampshire about Trump campaign. Because in Iowa, his polling is also on the top and ended with the second place; in New Hampshire he is also leading in the polls. So what would be your forecast about tomorrow’s votes? Would that – Rubio will come first and Trump will go to the third or even worse situation, and Rubio and Kasich would come out?

MR SMITH: Well, I would say that first off, that you’re right. Polls in New Hampshire are really notoriously inaccurate. And I would say – again, I say that as a pollster. I don’t use polls to predict what’s going to happen except in kind of broad ranges or within high margins of error, so to speak, or high bands – wide bands. But Trump has been leading in New Hampshire by significantly more consistently than he ever led in Iowa. In fact, Ted Cruz had been leading in Iowa for some weeks before Donald Trump regained the lead, but it was still fairly narrow. And the final polls were certainly single digits – 5 percent, 6 percent lead for Donald Trump. In a primary, that’s very, very easy to make that up. And – but we’re seeing Trump with leads of consistently in the 15 percent range, which is just more ground to make up for one of those other candidates.

And also here we don’t have a candidate who’s a natural fit – a single candidate who’s a natural fit for the electorate like Ted Cruz was in Iowa, where he – he really was the only real social conservative candidate that looked like they had a chance – Ben Carson, perhaps, but he didn’t have any electoral experience. And Cruz had done a really good job consolidating that vote and organizing that vote in Iowa to come out to the caucuses for him.

But here in New Hampshire, it is much broader and there’s just not the consolidation that you see in Iowa.

The other thing when you mentioned Rubio, his debate performance on Saturday night was in my view – and I’ve been watching these things since the 1970s – was one of those more bizarre and strange debate experiences that I have ever seen – his exchange with Chris Christie. So much so that among journalists – American journalists, we’re just still kind of stunned by what we saw. And I think that is going to have a much greater impact on voters here who – multiple other candidates they can consider other than Rubio. There’s not much difference between a Rubio and, say, Jeb Bush or John Kasich that their – their vote could very easily go to one of those other candidates. So I think Rubio, probably of anybody, hurt himself most in that debate. And that might be enough to knock him out of contention, really, this year.

Things like that have happened in the past, but I don’t – I’ve not seen enough support for somebody like a Kasich to be able to slip up – slide up and get Trump. But again, I still want to put in that caveat that polls are really, really difficult to do in New Hampshire because of the nature of the electorate and the fact that the electorate just isn’t locked down to one candidate for the most part. But Trump’s supporters are much more diehard in their support for him than are voters for any other candidate.

QUESTION: Actually, I have a second question about the Democrat side. The Politico reported this afternoon that the Hillary Clinton’s campaign might have a staff shakeup after --


QUESTION: Yeah. I don’t know if this question has been asked maybe before. So what kind of signal does this send out? Is it bad for her to – I think there is another two primary in February and then Super Tuesday. The direction of the Hillary campaign, is it going good or it’s a bad sign?

MR SMITH: It’s a very bad sign. Hillary Clinton was supposed to win the nomination very easily. None – no other serious Democratic candidate appeared. Bernie Sanders was really the only candidate that threw his name into the ring, and he was a socialist. He wasn’t even a member of the Democratic Party, so he wasn’t even considered a serious candidate. In fact, there was some question as to whether he would be allowed to run in the Democratic primary here in New Hampshire.

So he was not taken seriously. Clinton was supposed to win easily. She was supposed to win Iowa, but she tied Iowa. She was supposed to be able to win New Hampshire, the state that she had won eight years before fairly easily. She had the entire political establishment – or she has the entire political establishment of New Hampshire working for her. She – this was not supposed to be close, and it may prove that she loses by a significant margin. I think that she’s already conceded New Hampshire. Yesterday she left the state and went – attended an event in Flint, Michigan. And she did that because Flint, Michigan is the heavily African American city, and I believe that she was trying to show that she has true support, concern for African American voters because in South Carolina, 65 percent of the voters there in the Democratic primary are African American.

So I think she’s already conceded New Hampshire to a certain extent. They’ve been trying to lower expectations, saying that, well, if she finishes in single digits, that’s as good as a win. And in fact, there’s historical precedent for that. Bill Clinton spun a 8-point loss in New Hampshire into a win, calling himself the comeback kid. So – but Clinton was not supposed to lose this state. And the release or the rumors of a staff shakeup I think are a further indication that they know that this whole thing could be slipping away from her like it did in 2008.

QUESTION: Thanks very much, professor.


OPERATOR: We now have Yumi Araki with the Yomiuri newspaper, [Japan].

QUESTION: Hi, professor. Thank you so much for doing this. There were a couple of questions before this – a reporter asked about tactical voters. I don’t have a really good sense and I’m not sure if you have data on this, on how much of the New Hampshire voting population are actually these kind of tactical voters. Do you have a good sense of that?

MR SMITH: Well, there’s – in the academic world, there’s really no evidence that it is a significant number, which I think is an indication that it’s probably pretty low. There are always stories about that and there’s some indication that some people do, but it’s usually – would be a fairly small percentage of the overall electorate, especially when you have two – until just recently on the Democratic side – quite competitive campaigns. And even the Democratic campaign is close enough that a lot of Clinton supporters – they might say Bernie Sanders – or some Sanders supporters might decide to peel off of him here at the end, thinking that he may not be electable.

So there’s – usually it’s a very small percentage. And sometimes you’ll have a primary – a primary year where there’s only a single primary going on, like 2012 or 2004. In those years, yes, some people will switch over if they’re undeclared voters and vote in the opposite party’s primary. But even in those midterm elections like – or those uncontested elections like in 2012, about 70,000 Democrats came out and voted for Barack Obama – or voted in the Democratic primary for Barack Obama.

It’s – colleagues in Dartmouth have written a paper several years back, which I loved the title of. They described these independent voters and what they do as sheep in wolves’ clothing. It always sounds like there is this ferocious, dangerous kind of voter out there, but it just never seems to materialize.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you very much.


OPERATOR: We have now Morten Bertelsen. What’s your company or your media affiliate, Morten?

QUESTION: I’m with Dagens Naeringsliv, Norway business daily. Thanks for taking my question.


QUESTION: I just want to talk a broader question if I may. You mentioned that the party has a serious, serious problem, given the rise of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Could you say a few words about the future of the GOP as a political party? Could this election or Trump’s and Cruz’s success splinter the party in a way?

MR SMITH: Well, it certainly could cause a lot of infighting within the party, and they’ll have to do some soul searching and probably chart a different direction, but this has happened before within both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. But both parties have existed for an enormously long time. They’re the two oldest political parties in the Western world, or probably the entire world of democratic governments, because they’ve been extremely good at changing with the times, changing with the issues, shifting around to take advantage of a changing political environment. And they’ve – they’re – I’m 55 years old, and I think I’ve already read three times about the demise of the Republican Party. And it’s not happened.

And we think that the Republican Party is in trouble, but frankly, the Democratic Party is in more serious structural trouble than the Republican Party is. The Democratic Party holds fewer offices in state and local elected offices, and including the national Congress and the Senate, than since the 1920s before Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So the ranks of the Democratic Party below the President have been decimated over the eight years of President Obama’s Administration. They have a very weak farm team coming forward in the future. The Republican Party absolutely has an ideological problem within it that the Democratic Party doesn’t have, but the Democratic Party has an ideology that I think is less attractive to voters as a whole than the fractured, multiple-faceted Republican ideology, however you make that, however you would describe it. It’s not a single particular ideology, and that’s the problem they have.

So there has got to be an intellectual and ideological battle within the Republican Party to decide the direction and the future, but they’ve done this before and the Democratic Party has done this before as well. They may not win the presidency, but the party will come through – somebody will come through and be able to rebuild the party.

Actually, there was an interesting analysis that was done looking at what has happened to the Republican Party. And they claim that it goes – or they posit that it goes all the way back to the end of the Cold War, because the Republican Party had always had various facets of it. You had wealth – the old New York, New England wealth; you had evangelicals and farmers; you had true, more libertarian conservatives. You had all of these different groups, and the one thing that united them was the antiwar sentiment – excuse me, not antiwar sentiment. Excuse me. I meant the anticommunist sentiment that bound those groups together.

And with the demise of the Soviet Union, kind of that lid that kept all those competing forces together in one pot was lifted off, and they have not yet settled what it is that’s going to hold all of those factions together. Back in the 1960s, this was referred to as fusionism, that the Republican Party was real a fusion of many different – what would normally be think of as almost smaller parties, but they were all within this broader Republican Party. I think what the Republican Party needs to do, and probably will do, because it’s what’s parties do – they only exist to win elections – but they’ll have to come up with some other – some unifying principle, and not just on an issue, but a unifying principle that allows them to hold those disparate groups together.

QUESTION: Thanks. A second question, if I may. Michael Bloomberg. Could you see a path for him to the White House?

MR SMITH: Not really. Michael Bloomberg is kind of like a Donald Trump, but there are – always have been wealthy men and billionaires who think they can just step in and win the presidency – Ross Perot, I guess most recently in ’92 and ’96 – but it’s such a difficult thing to do without a political party behind you. Ross Perot, for example, won 19 percent of the vote in 1992 and got exactly zero electoral votes. And Bloomberg – yes, he has money, but he’s nowhere near as well known as he might think he is. And there’s – I don’t see the motivational reason why people would want to vote for a Michael Bloomberg, except that he’s not one of the other guys. Teddy Roosevelt was the last successful – really successful third party candidate, and he had been a popular president before, and even he lost the 1912 election when he decided to run again.

QUESTION: Thank you.


OPERATOR: We now have Yashwant Raj with Hindustan Times.

QUESTION: Hindustan Times. No problem, it’s okay. I wanted to actually ask you about Rubio and his debate performance, but you already answered that question.

MR SMITH: Can I ask you, what did you think of that debate performance when you saw it?

QUESTION: I thought he – I thought he was roughed up and he – I thought Christie basically just finished, destroyed him. But I’ve been following Rubio since, and his interviews and his comments and his remarks, and he’s saying that his campaign collected a huge amount of money after that debate, and he has not even once looked contrite or even that he did something wrong. I mean, he’s repeated himself, he’s repeatedly said that, “Look, I have been saying this for over a year now and I – there’s nothing new.” So he’s kind of breathing it out. I mean, it’s as if he is convinced that nothing – that debate performance will not damage him or – it’s a miracle that --

MR SMITH: That’s the strategy that he has to take. The only other strategy – the strategic option he could take – would be to say, “Yeah, I really screwed that one up, didn’t I,” and kind of laugh about it and say, “Yeah, we all make mistakes. We all have bad days. I really had a bad run that day.” But he doesn’t seem to have the temperament to be able to laugh at himself in that sort of a way. It’s going to be hard for him to recover from it.

But you are right that you can – you have campaign supporters that might continue to support you, but my sense is that Rubio’s support has not been so much broad support as it has been institutional support. For example, he’s not raising money like Bernie Sanders with very small amounts from a lot of people. He’s getting large amounts of money from a few people.

QUESTION: Could it also be that he is convinced the party establishment is behind him on this? They have kind of given up on Bush, and you – as you said, Kasich is not going to go the full length. And Cruz and Trump, the establishment doesn’t want either of them, so for the establishment, Marco Rubio remains the only viable candidate. And Rubio knows that, and he’s kind of – that’s what he’s kind of running on.

MR SMITH: Well, that could very well be. I don’t have access to the inner workings of those folks. I’m just a college professor. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, no, no, I’m just – I don’t have either, but I’m just asking, is that possible?

MR SMITH: It’s possible, but it just doesn’t sound as plausible to me as he’s going to try to keep a straight face on this and a stiff upper lip and try to bluff his way through this and hope that people won’t remember it.

Now, I should say that I was surprised that there wasn’t as much secondary coverage of that, because it seemed to be at the time that it was tailor-made for comedy clips, that it would be repeated over and over as a comedic exchange. But I haven’t seen as much of that as I expected. Maybe it’s out there, maybe it’ll come out quickly. I’m sure if Rubio does well and he survives to South Carolina, it will come up over and over and over and over and over again by the campaigns. It’s kind of too late to put a commercial together and run one yet.

But part of the problem with nomination contests in general, the primaries, is that we have so few data points to point to to say, “This is what happened when X occurs” or, “This will be the impact of Y.” So every primary has different candidates, different issues, different events that occur. And we can kind of point to historic similarities, but to a great extent, we’ve just never seen something like that happen before and we really don’t know what the results are going to be, what it’s going to result in.

QUESTION: Right. Thank you so much.


OPERATOR: All right. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, it would be * then 1.

MODERATOR: I think this will be our last question.


MODERATOR: Unless you want to keep going, Professor.

MR SMITH: I do have to go pretty soon, but I can do another one.

MODERATOR: Exactly, yeah.

OPERATOR: All right. We now have Morten Bertelsen again. Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, professor. So I was just wondering if you could comment on Clinton’s southern firewall strategy vis-a-vis Sanders’ ability to fundraise. He – yeah, he’s surprisingly strong in attracting funds, and how could that affect the race going forward? Thanks.

MR SMITH: Well, there are several things that I think are related there, but I’m still not convinced that it’s a failsafe strategy. Hillary Clinton has been extremely successful in getting endorsements and support from pretty much the entire range of the Democratic Party nationally and here in New Hampshire, and she’s certainly gotten incredible support and endorsements from, say, the Congressional Black Caucus and from African American politicians in other parts of the – across the country. And the strategy that she has for South Carolina is that she will be more appealing to those African American voters in South Carolina than Bernie Sanders will, and that they will support her more than Sanders. In part, that rests upon her husband’s popularity with African American voters during his two elections and the fact that, frankly, since there’s no Barack Obama in the race this year to naturally attract African American votes, that she will be the – she, who she believes should have gotten them in 2008, will easily get them this time around. So that’s the strategy.

But I think the weakness in the strategy is that it assumes that African Americans are not going to be impacted by momentum like every other kind of voter is, that they are just going to be locked in with Clinton for some reason and not be attracted to Bernie Sanders’s message. I’m skeptical that that’s the case. I don’t think – she may do somewhat better and they – and they may – the endorsements of the African American elected officials may be helpful to her, but there are going to be a lot of African Americans who say, “You know what? Bernie Sanders, with what he’s saying about income inequality – that’s me. I’m feeling that.” And he could be very attractive to African American voters.

The biggest difference in that – in those states like South Carolina and the states on the – what are called the SEC caucus is that they’re just starting to pay attention to the race. They’re just starting to pay attention to this election, whereas people in New Hampshire (inaudible) paying attention to it for a long time. And when they do start to pay attention, they’re going to be seeing, first of all, who won and who lost.

OPERATOR: All right. At this point, we have no questions in queue.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

MR SMITH: Well, I want to thank you all for your time.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much. I, too, want to thank our callers and Professor Smith for his generous use of his time. We’re going to get a transcript out of – out for this event as quickly as we can, probably sometime tomorrow, and I’ll turn things back over to the AT&T operator to say goodbye. He will also describe how you can replay this conversation in case you dialed in late and missed something. So, back over to AT&T.

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