Tags: Jeb Bush | Marco Rubio | Polls | Ted Cruz | Democrats | Gregg | McCain

Independents Key to NH Primary

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Voters at a Kasich rally in N.H, 2015 (AP) 

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Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016 11:14 AM Current | Bio | Archive

New Hampshire’s primary will likely hinge on a large contingent of independent voters.

Under state election law, the roughly 44 percent of voters who aren’t registered as Democrats or Republicans are permitted to choose ballots for either party’s primary.

According to a just-completed MassINC poll conducted for WBUR Radio in Boston, Donald Trump is in a virtual tie with Ohio Gov. John Kasich (20 percent to 19 percent) among New Hampshire independents who have made up their minds.

The same poll showed Jeb Bush with 13 percent and Ted Cruz 12 percent.

Dick Bennett’s American Research Group poll, which has been forecasting New Hampshire results since 1976, found that among undeclared voters, Trump leads with 36 percent, followed by Kasich with 20 percent, and Cruz 11 percent.

Manchester attorney John Stephen, a former state commissioner of health human resources and backer of Marco Rubio, told me that “Trump will do well with the Republicans who are very ‘non-establishment’ and many of the same folks who helped put John McCain on top in 2000 and 2008.”

But, he added, “the question will be who rises through the pack between Kasich, Rubio, and [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie. I don’t think Cruz will do well but I may be wrong. 

"The feeling a few weeks ago was that Rubio was rising and had the momentum. Kasich is also running strong and has the potential. I am not sure Christie moves up.”

“The independents — or ‘undeclared,’ as we call them — hold the key to the primary,” former State Attorney General Tom Rath, John Kasich’s top operative in New Hampshire, told me, “Polling is showing that the independents are splitting between Kasich and [Vermont Sen. and Democratic hopeful] Bernie Sanders.”

Rath added that “this demonstrates the unpredictable nature of the primary. And both campaigns realize the impact and are working hard.”

This unpredictable process, historians say, is a big reason for so many upsets in the 64 years New Hampshire has held its primary as the first in the nation. “On five occasions, the presumed last-minute front-runners have been upset by challengers,” recalled New Hampshire’s late GOP Gov. Hugh Gregg in "The Candidates: See How They Run," his 1990 history of his state’s primary, “1952, [Republican] General Eisenhower over Senator Taft and Senator Kefauver over President Truman; 1964, [Republican] Ambassador [Henry Cabot] Lodge over Governor [Nelson] Rockefeller; 1984, [Democrat] Senator [Gary] Hart over Vice President [Walter] Mondale; and 1988, Republican Vice President Bush over Senator [Bob] Dole.”

A decade after Gregg wrote his book, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pulled off a sixth upset by winning big in New Hampshire over Texas Gov. and primary favorite George W. Bush.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.








 

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New Hampshire’s primary will likely hinge on a large contingent of independent voters.
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