The latest Emerson College polls for the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire were released earlier today and yesterday, and the first one showed Senator Bernie Sanders with a commanding lead at 32%, 19 points ahead of Biden and Warren, who were both tied at 13%.
Sanders leads with not only younger voters (40% to Warren’s 15%), but also with older voters and seniors (23% to Biden’s 18%). Sanders also leads all ideological categories of voters: the very liberal, somewhat liberal, moderate, as well as conservative primary voters.
If this scenario holds true till primary day, primary rules which hold that a candidate that receives fewer than 15% of the primary vote will not be allotted any delegates, would enable Sanders to net all 24 of the state’s pledged delegates - if no one else gets more than 15%.
New Hampshire has 24 pledged delegates - 8 statewide delegates (5 At-Large + 3 Party Leaders and Elected Officials) based on the statewide vote, and 8 delegates each for the 2 congressional districts (based on the vote in the districts). Fortunately for Sanders, who is polling so well state-wide, the fact that New Hampshire has only two congressional districts means that it is possible to replicate the statewide vote in both halves, and to win all the congressional delegates too.
A favorable result as described above could enable Sanders to carry his Iowa momentum into Nevada and South Carolina. It would also help Sanders solidify and expand his position within the “progressive lane” of the party, vis-à-vis Senator Elizabeth Warren, who seems to be playing spoiler. Warren supporters tend to be white, and a total defeat in New Hampshire would make her reconsider staying in the race, given that her base does not match with the subsequent states in the primary.
A poor showing by Biden in Iowa (it is estimated he is coming 4th) carrying into New Hampshire would highly reduce his chances of winning Nevada (where he is tied with Sanders) and South Carolina (where Sanders is 5 points behind), and make Sanders the imminent frontrunner nationally.
Pete Buttigieg failing to net any delegates in New Hampshire would crush his prospects of surviving the Democratic primary ahead, in which he polls next to zero with voters of color – bowing out to Biden and Bloomberg.
However, an Iowa victory (the results aren’t fully out yet – only 71% precincts reporting) for Buttigieg could propel him to over 15% in New Hampshire. The Emerson poll of the very next day kept Bernie at 32%, Pete 17% (+5 due to his premature victory declaration in Iowa – might vanish if Sanders snatches victory in that state), Biden same at 13% and Warren -2% at 11%.
If Klobuchar, Yang, Bennet, Patrick and Steyer fail to net any delegates at all in New Hampshire, they might quit before Nevada or Super Tuesday. It might even close off the path forward for other, more major candidates.
A blowout victory in New Hampshire is just what the Sanders campaign needs to increase its chances in states it is not yet leading in, or is within striking distance of leading - Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Michigan. If the Sanders campaign makes the most of its days heading up to New Hampshire – a total victory is within reach.
The author is a PhD researcher in Modern and Contemporary History at Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.