New Hampshire Primary Predictions (Updated)

The fabled village of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire has cast their first-in-the-state vote in the first-in-the-nation primary. Their selections, John McCain and Barack Obama, will likely be the choice of the rest of the state as well, if the polls are right.


For what it’s worth (which, admittedly, probably isn’t much), here’s how I see it ending up:

Republicans Democrats
John McCain – 33% Barack Obama – 39%
Mitt Romney – 28% Hillary Clinton – 30%
Mike Huckabee – 13% John Edwards – 18%
Ron Paul – 11% Bill Richardson – 5%
Rudy Giuliani – 10%
Fred Thompson – 3%


One and two could flip and three, four, and five are neck-and-neck. Romney is ahead of McCain in a couple of the polls, which are all over the map. Huckabee is third, but within the margin of error of fourth, in all the polls. And Guiliani is ahead of or tied with Paul (but within the margin of error) in all the surveys:

New Hampshire Republican Primary Republicans

The trend lines, though, are all McCain for first place and Giuliani seems to be plummeting.

New Hampshire Republican Primary Republicans Trends

For the Democrats, it would be a major upset if the 1-2-3-4 finish went any different than the numbers above, as there are no recent polls in which the order varies. Technically, a few are within the margin of error. Looking at the aggregate, though, even if one assigns the lowest point in the +/-3 range to Obama and the highest to Clinton, he still wins. Ditto Clinton v. Edwards.

New Hampshire Democratic Poll Numbers

The trend lines are stark, as well, with Obama surging, Clinton plummeting, and Edwards rising slightly:

New Hampshire Republican Primary Democrats Trends

Impact on the Race:

For the Republicans, not much is likely to change. If Thompson were inclined to drop out before the New Hampshire primaries, one would think he’d have done it by now. And, while back-to-back fifth or sixth place finishes would seem to be devastating to Giuliani, he has been intending a large state strategy all along.

I don’t see how Thompson or Romney win the nomination, though, if these results hold. McCain, Huckabee, and Giuliani — probably in that order — all have very plausible scenarios. They’re statistically tied in the national polls and have strong leads in various key early states in the free-for-all that’s about to ensue. Ron Paul will likely continue to run but, eventually, will stop getting invited to the debates and become a non-factor in the campaign.

One would think Richardson would call it quits after this. He’s not even registering in the national polls and there’s no reason to think he’ll win any of the early primary states. It’s a three-way race, though, regardless of what he decides in that regard.

Obama becomes the clear frontrunner; after tonight, it’s his race to lose. He’ll likely go on to win South Carolina, with Edwards finishing second. My guess is that Clinton continues to give him a fight and rebounds to win several states. Unless she implodes and it becomes a two man race, though, I don’t see a plausible scenario whereby Edwards gets the nomination.

Other Predictions:

Update (Dave Schuler)

Pursuant to James’s request I’m going to weigh in with a few predictions about the New Hampshire primaries. On the Republican side I think it will be McCain, Romney, Huckabee, Paul, Thompson, Giuliani. On the Democratic side it will be Obama, Clinton, Edwards. On both sides no more than a couple of delegates will separate the “winner” from the third place finisher. Whatever the candidates claim there won’t be a decisive victory on anybody’s part.

I expect Bill Richardson to bow out after the New Hampshire primary. With his departure will also go nearly the only substantive differences on policy among the Democratic candidates. From here on out the debates will be about style, image, and feelings. The race will be far from over for Hillary Clinton (or John Edwards for that matter). I suspect she’ll miss those Florida delegates. And don’t forget those superdelegates.

On the Republican side the only candidate that might conceivably bow out is Thompson but I’m not sure why he’d bow out. His what for lack of a better word we’ll call “campaign” is so low-key that he can keep right on doing whatever it is that he’s doing at least through Feb 5.

Update (Steven Taylor):

James asked for my prediction, so here it is:

Republians Democrats
John McCain – 33% Barack Obama – 40%
Mitt Romney – 26% Hillary Clinton – 33%
Mike Huckabee – 15% John Edwards – 16%
Ron Paul – 12% Bill Richardson – 7%
Rudy Giuliani – 8% Dennis Kucinich – 3%
Fred Thompson – 5% Mike Gravel >1%
Ducan Hunter – >1%

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mw says:

    I agree with your top three in each party, in that order.

    Intrade shows both McCain and Obama surging on the President contracts, with their strength in the last 24 hours coming out of your 3rd place finishers.

    On the Dem side, Edwards will probably stay in through SC, but after NH it is essentially a two man race, and Edwards is the odd man out.

    I’d love to see Paul beat Giuliani again, but not sure he will not drop to fifth.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I’d love to see Paul beat Giuliani again, but not sure he will not drop to fifth.

    The polling has him fifth, although well within the margin of error. I figure that the combination of the intensity of Paul’s support and Giuliani’s downward trendline is enough to give him the edge; it’s just a SWAG, though.

  3. independent says:

    Independents in NH will probably give Paul a good bump to 15%. I’d really like to see him beat Huckabee – Giuliani isn’t enough of a challenge.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    While New Hampshire has a lot of independents, it doesn’t have an infinite supply of them and they’ll have a choice of voting in the Democratic or Republican primaries, not both. If they vote on the Democratic side, presumably most will support Obama; on the Republican either McCain (that’s what happened last time around) or Paul.

    If most independents decide to get on the Obama bandwagon, his numbers will be boosted and both McCain’s and Paul’s depressed. That’s the scenario for a Romney win.

    I doubt that Paul will capture more than the low double digits. Time will tell.

  5. spark240 says:

    It’s Dixville NOTCH, as in a gap in the hill.

    Fixed! I knew that (at least the name part, not so much the origin) but had the X in my head from Dixville, I guess. – jhj

  6. Nancy says:

    Take it from someone that lives in arkansas and is orignally from Illinois The Huck years were great here he improved the school district, put inAr kids first for all children under 19 with health insurance. Jobs were booming he raise the price on cars that you didn’t have to pay sales tax. Tried to stop food tax and the Democrat congress wouldn’t go for it. By the way Romney Arkansas has no lottery so he had to raise taxes to fix the school system that was the lowest from the Clinton years our school system had been sued. Now we have a dem for a governor and things are already going down hill

  7. yetanotherjohn says:

    fess up James. You marked Paul as edging Rudy just to appease the Ronbots. When will you learn that appeasement may provide short term security but long term they will just keep upping the ante.

  8. James Joyner says:

    fess up James. You marked Paul as edging Rudy just to appease the Ronbots.

    Heh. On the contrary — angry Ronbots are good for business! But I figure enthusiasm is good for making up a half percentage point deficit in the polls; some Giuliani leaners are likely to switch to McCain or Romney in order to “count.”

  9. James O says:

    Regardless of how Ron Paul is considered by you or the press, he will be the king maker for the GOP. Even in the most biased polls, Ron Paul pulls around 5% of the vote nationally. He has enough money to finish the campaign. If he runs as a third party candidate, the GOP can kiss the presidency good bye.

    So, be nice.

  10. James Moore says:

    Yep, be nice. I don’t vote by party, but have generally tended toward the Republican – that is the pre-Bush era Republican, viewpoint. But I’ll seriously consider a vote for Edwards or Obama before anyone on the Republican side this time around – except for Ron Paul. He’s truly the only standout, the only one you can trust to be true to his oath of office, with a consistent voting record that matches his views. Love him or not, the man has balls and you can trust what he says – no pandering just to get votes, unlike ALL the rest.
    Face it folks, it’s either Paul, or a globalist CFR member bent on keeping America on the path to one-world rule. What should be a government of the people, by the people, for the people has become of the corporations, by the lobbyists, and for the elite. Paul is the only candidate willing to buck this nightmare we the people have allowed to happen. Don’t make the same mistake we made in 1992 when we could have elected a true leader and instead got a member of the globalist cabal. I often hear people remark “Ross was right!” Don’t just let things happen and then look back in 8 years with regret, saying “Paul was right!”

    Take the chance while we have it; it may never come again. When all the dust settles, you can count on a big “bi-partisan” push to regulate the internet, so we the people will lose the only vehicle we have left to fight the polished propaganda machinery of the media and their friends in the pharma & military-support industries. It’s already in the works, with H.R. 1959, the “Homegrown Terrorism Prevention” act. The terrorists aren’t just over there – there’s another form of terrorist bent on controlling what we think. Wake up.

  11. The Truth says:

    Ron Paul is winning because he talks about issues that people are concerned about.

  12. James Moore says:

    Ron Paul has already won because he’s added real substance to the discussion. It’s been fun watching the others adjust what they say, especially on camera. Compare what the rest of the field said last year on anything except the Iraq war, and I think you’ll find they all sound a bit more like Paul. Hell, even on the war they’ve mostly reduced their estimate of the time we’ll need to keep troops over there, except McCain of course, who would be happy to have us there for 100 years. Nevermind we’d be bankrupt and unable to continue before the end of his 1-term presidency.

    You didn’t hear Tax Hike Mike talk about abolishing the IRS, until Ron Paul’s campaign said it.

    You didn’t hear much about immigration until Tancredo made it a big issue first – but Paul’s campaign message about immigration never changed from the beginning.

    You didn’t see Thompson say anything about the Constitution – until after Ron Paul was heard in appearance after appearance reminding people he’s always been a strict Constitutionalist.

    You won’t see Romney, McCain, or Giuliani bring up anything about their consistent record, their record on reducing the size of government, their support for individual liberty or private property. They are all morally bankrupt on these issues, and are tools/part & parcel of the NWO elite.

    Ron Paul alone stands for true traditional Republican conservative values. Too bad the holy rollers & globalist’s mouthpieces have decieved the core of the party so badly; too many have been blinded beyond hope of recovery, I fear.