It’s now been a full week since the Iowa caucuses happened last Monday. In the past few days we’ve had a Democratic debate, a Republican debate, and little movement in polling data which that continues to show Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump poised to take home big victories on Tuesday night. The only movement that has occurred is on the Republican side where the shuffling of candidates in and out of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place spots will continue right up until tomorrow as voters make last-minute decisions.
Report from CNN:
On the eve of New Hampshire’s presidential primaries, a new CNN Poll of Polls finds both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are holding on to substantial leads in their respective races, but each faces an opponent whose support is on the rise.
Sanders’ 54% to 40% advantage over Hillary Clinton is down slightly from a 55% to 37% lead in the previous Poll of Polls. No public polling has found Clinton in the lead in New Hampshire since November.
Trump tops the GOP field with 31%, well ahead of Marco Rubio’s 15%. Rubio has picked up four points since the previous New Hampshire Poll of Polls, the biggest change in the averages in the last week. Ted Cruz follows with 13%, John Kasich at 11% and Jeb Bush at 10%. This pack of four — Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Bush — has been jockeying for second place in the state for some time. The fifth candidate often included in the group, Chris Christie, has generally seen his support dwindle, and now stands well behind, dropping two points in this week’s Poll of Polls to an average of 5%. Carly Fiorina ties Christie at 5% and Ben Carson rounds out the group with 3%.
But the overall wide margins aren’t an indicator that the political world can turn its attentions away from the Granite State just yet. All of the polls included in the Poll of Polls were completed prior to Saturday night’s Republican debate, however, and it remains to be seen how that will impact voters in the final days of the campaign.
As the story notes, there is no polling available yet was taken after the Saturday night Republican debate. We don’t know fully how that debate will affect the vote for candidates like Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie. Some analysts have argued that the debate may produce a “jump ball” situation where any of the candidates might be able to work their way into a close 2nd place finish, assuming Trump takes the top prize.
Then we come to Marco Rubio with this report from The Washington Post:
Marco Rubio’s robotic debate performance Saturday night sparked an all-out offensive on the campaign trail here Sunday over his authenticity and experience, momentarily halting the momentum of the senator from Florida and further muddling the presidential nomination battle.
Just two days before the New Hampshire primary, Rubio drew mockery for repeating a rehearsed line four times during the Republican candidates’ debate, even after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had ridiculed him for being a talking-point machine.
Rubio received scathing reviews on the Sunday talk shows and was needled by some of his opponents. On Twitter, he earned the moniker “Rubio bot.” Clips of the debate played repeatedly on cable news and were watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube.
In generous terms, Rubio had a rough debate performance on Saturday night. He was simply not prepared for the all-out assault from Chris Christie and he buckled badly under that pressure. In the early moments of the debate, his Iowa momentum seemed to turn into a New Hampshire crawl and the fallout will continue right into voting on Tuesday. This is not to suggest Rubio still can’t earn a 2nd place finish, he still easily could given the closeness of the race, but the debate has forced a change in his messaging to a more defensive tone.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton appears to have made up a handful of points against Sanders in recent days. She’s still trailing by a very sizable amount but her team is concentrating to make a push and avoid a serious blowout. I imagine this race might end up a little tighter than polls suggest, though Sanders will likely be the victor.