Looking Ahead to New Hampshire

The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday, as the Democrats hope to rebound from their awful performance in Iowa. What should we expect? The Real Clear Politics poll numbers are here. I take it as a foregone conclusion that Bernie Sanders will come out on top. He averages in the upper 20s in the polls, and should be strong in the state that adjoins his native Vermont, with lots of essentially Massachusetts voters in what are now the Boston suburbs of southern New Hampshire. That’s not particularly interesting.

In my view, these are the developments to watch for:

1) Turnout. After three years of anti-Trump hysteria, most people assume that Democrats are itching to go to the polls. But turnout on the Democratic side in Iowa was disappointing. If that trend continues in New Hampshire, it may have implications for November, as recent polling suggests that Republicans are, on the average, more motivated to vote than Democrats.

2) Pete Buttigieg. “Mayor Pete” is expected to finish second. He is now being attacked by his rivals for the first time, and is unlikely to do well in South Carolina. So he needs a good showing in New Hampshire to maintain momentum.

3) Amy Klobuchar. In my opinion, Klobuchar is the second-strongest candidate the Democrats could nominate to oppose President Trump, after Tulsi Gabbard. But they aren’t going to select an overt patriot, so their best practical option is Klobuchar. She has more experience than Buttigieg, is smarter than Biden, and is a woman. She is plenty far left, but doesn’t call herself a socialist. In fact, if memory serves, she was the only Democrat in a recent debate to express concern about having a socialist at the top of the ticket. She has mastered the art of sounding moderate while she advocates left-wing policies, unlike Bernie Sanders. But she disappointed in Iowa, adjacent to her home state of Minnesota, and is unlikely to do well in South Carolina. So if she is to have a shot, she needs to impress in New Hampshire. Currently Klobuchar stands a rather distant fifth in the RCP average, but she has ticked up a little over the last month. Let’s hope she stays buried in the back of the pack.

4) Joe Biden. Actually, there is nothing to watch for here. Biden, as I have said many times, is a dead candidate walking. He has no hope of getting the Democratic nomination–unfortunately, because he would also have no hope of beating President Trump. He is currently fourth in the RCP standings, and may slip lower. It just doesn’t matter.