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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 08, 2016

 
Dispatch from Wingnut nation

by digby

In case you were wondering, here's what the Cruz loving movement conservatives are saying about New Hampshire:

Theodoric Mayer of Politico reports, “Trump commands 30 percent support from likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, the poll found. John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz were virtually tied for second place, with 14 percent support for Kasich, 13 percent each for Rubio and Bush and 12 percent for Cruz.

“Other candidates were far behind. Chris Christie had 6 percent support, Carly Fiorina had 5 percent and Ben Carson had 4 percent.”

The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 4.4 points, so there’s little doubt that any of the second place contenders could actually be holding down that coveted position, especially since most of the interviews for the survey were conducted prior to Saturday night’s debate.

Further, only about half of likely GOP voters indicated they were set on their candidate of choice.

There appears to be plenty of room for some last minute surprises, all of which makes the ground game of paramount importance in New Hampshire.

And just like in Iowa, the Cruz GOTV operation is in full swing. Kerry Pickett of the Daily Caller reports, “Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Bob Smith, a Cruz campaign ally, expressed full confidence about the campaign’s ground game overcoming present poll expectations.

“’I’m not knocking polls. They were wrong in my case in 1996, when they said that I lost. I think what we’ve been doing is knocking on doors,’ Smith told The Daily Caller. ‘We’ve been ID’ing voters who are leaners, people who are not sure, and we’ve been knocking on thousands and thousands of doors for literally months and I’ll tell you it feels good out there.’”

Pickett’s article also details the data operation fueling the Cruz effort where the campaign micro-targets individual voters based on information gathered from extensive telephone and in-person interviews.

Most of the campaigns would probably claim they’re doing similar things, but Cruz has already demonstrated that his operation is capable of squeezing every possible vote out of a state.

For his part, Donald Trump also appears to have ditched the “big rally” strategy he unsuccessfully used in Iowa in favor of smaller, more retail-politics type events in The Granite State.

But some are skeptical of Trump’s motives for the switch to more intimate rallies. New Hampshire native Steve Berman of The Resurgent explains, “Could the smaller venues be a result of falling attendance at his super-rallies? Trump claimed 11,500 in Little Rock, but the embarrassing tale of the tape pegs the number in the more dismal neighborhood of 4,000 or less. What’s clear is that the Trump band is no longer as new and shiny as it was a few months ago. Now, he’s just another candidate…

“Trump’s failure to invest in technology and shoe leather, along with his missed targets in Iowa lead me to believe, along with people on the ground in New Hampshire, that Trump will underperform his polls there. By how much? We don’t know yet, but it’s likely Ted Cruz knows.”

Berman’s article was written before Saturday night’s Rubio crash-and-burn, so his conclusions may have changed some over the weekend. But the gist is he believes Trump will underperform and Cruz will do better – perhaps significantly so – than his poll numbers would suggest.

There’s even more evidence that this may be the case. Just because Trump is holding smaller campaign events doesn’t mean his ground game is new and improved. Reid J. Epstein and Heather Haddon of the Wall Street Journal write, “Rival campaigns have spent months identifying supporters and persuadable voters to target and turn out in the closing days before the primary. Mr. Trump’s volunteers spent the weekend working from a list of all registered Republicans…

“At the same time, a group working against the billionaire businessman’s candidacy, Our Principles PAC, is targeting specific New Hampshire audiences in trying to depress the Trump numbers.”

Epstein’s and Haddon’s story prominently notes not only does Trump fail to employ a serious data-driven ground game, he’s not sending out mail either.

The Donald certainly continues to excel in the polls, but there’s also a strong inference he’s going to have a much harder time getting his people to actually vote.

Factoring in Marco Rubio’s debate blunders and Trump’s disappointing second place showing in Iowa without a professional ground game, I’m still predicting Trump will win in New Hampshire. But I’m also thinking the margin of victory will be much smaller than that reflected in the polls -- and other candidates, such as Ted Cruz, will do better than most people think.

If the final numbers are close it will be interesting to see how the networks spin this one. Pundits were gushing in praise for Rubio’s third-place finish in Iowa. Would they be as outwardly giddy about a surprisingly strong Cruz second place showing in New Hampshire?

I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

I wouldn't bet anything on it.

This is the kind of thing partisans tell each other the night before the New Hampshire primary. Anything's possible. Polling in primaries is not much more reliable than going to a fortune teller. And the Republicans really are in a big pile up for second so maybe field will make the difference there especially since Rubio has probably stalled out from his hilariously weird debate performance.

Still, it's now in the "what would I do if I won the lottery" phase where everyone's indulging in a little fantasy since it's really out of their hands. Human nature.

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