Monday, January 7, 2008

Iowa Implications from Paul Gurian

Early New Hampshire polls indicate that Obama has moved up 5-10% in New Hampshire while Clinton has slipped a bit. Clinton’s perception as “inevitable” and “unbeatable” has been shaken. However, Clinton still has a substantial following and a strong organization. Frontrunners often lose Iowa but go on to win New Hampshire and the nomination.
Obama got a boost in Iowa. He showed that he’s truly competitive with Clinton and that he can win among white voters. By defeating Edwards, he took a big step toward becoming the alternative to Clinton. Democrats who don’t like Clinton have been divided among several candidates; they may now rally around Obama.
Edwards survived but did not improve his position. He needs to either win or come in a close second in New Hampshire to remain viable.

Romney lost ground in Iowa. If he loses New Hampshire, he’s in serious trouble.
Huckabee got a big boost from the Iowa results. He needs to follow up this victory with a strong showing in New Hampshire or Michigan and a win in South Carolina. New Hampshire is not friendly territory. Huckabee may get a boost from his victory in Iowa but probably not enough to defeat either Romney or McCain there.
McCain benefitted from the Iowa results. McCain needs to win New Hampshire and his main opponent there, Mitt Romney, did poorly in Iowa. That will likely help McCain in New Hampshire. Early New Hampshire polls show McCain with a slight lead over Romney in New Hampshire, with Huckabee a distant third.
Giuliani’s hope is that no one candidate will emerge from the early contests with momentum. Giuliani is pinning his hopes on Florida and Super Tuesday. So he was probably pleased to see Romney fail to win Iowa. However, that increases the likelihood of McCain winning New Hampshire and gaining momentum.
Fred Thompson survived Iowa, but he’s running last in New Hampshire and is not especially strong anywhere else.

Independents in New Hampshire
New Hampshire has an “open” primary. Since there are a lot of independents in New Hampshire, those voters can make a difference. This year, New Hampshire independents seem to like Obama and McCain.

An average of New Hampshire polls taken January 4-5 show McCain with 33%, Romney with 28%, Huckabee with 11%, and Giuliani with 10%. Among Democrats, Obama has 35%, Clinton 30%, and Edwards 20%. If the results match the polls, Edwards, Romney and Thompson could be on their way out. South Carolina looms large for both parties.

--Paul Gurian


Josh Putnam said...

Just for clarification, what is your definition of "close second" for Edwards in NH? I realize that your definition and what the media may report as "close second," should things play out that way, may be completely different. However, I'm curious as to what your thoughts are.

PHGurian said...

I guess a "close second" depends on how the media report it. The media in Iowa seemed to have decided that a fraction of a per cent on the Democratic side (Edwards vs. Clinton) was significant but not on the Republican side (Thompson vs. McCain). This makes sense in terms of the story-lines: "Frontrunner Clinton finishes Third" (Wow!) and "Huckabee defeats Romney" (and some others were also running).
If, for example, Edwards finishes within a couple of points of the winner and well ahead of whoever is third, then the media might report it as a strong showing. If the first-place finisher is way ahead, Edwards will be ignored.

Josh Putnam said...

Thanks Paul.

I agree, but I'll add one caveat. Edwards would be ignored in that scenario because Clinton would have come in third again. If Edwards finishes second it won't be Obama who is in third (most likely). The Iowa story would repeat itself and he'd get lost in the shuffle...again. I think Edwards needs more than one percentage point's difference between himself and third and to be closer than 7 or 8 points to Obama (the Iowa margin) to make some news for himself. Even then, it would be tough sailing.