New Hampshire primary offers chance to reshape race

SMU experts are available for interview on all things relating to the Feb. 9 New Hampshire Primary.

DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts are available for interview on all things relating to today’s New Hampshire Primary.

When winning isn’t enough – Managing the expectations game 



With Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders polling strongly leading up to the New Hampshire Primary, Wilson says the biggest question might not be, “Who will win?” but rather, “Who will outperform expectations?”

“They really need to win by double digits to be perceived as having had a solid result,” Wilson says. “Unless Trump and Sanders win by 10 points or more, the story will be their underperformance.”

Just below the favorites, Wilson has his eyes on Marco Rubio and whether the senator’s widely panned weekend debate performance will hurt him in the primary.

“If he finishes worse than second, it will be a disappointment,” Wilson says. “If Rubio finishes worse than third, it’s a serious problem for him. It had seemed clear he was emerging as a long-term challenger to Trump after Iowa, but this could be a big stumble for him.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science who can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics

Is New Hampshire Kasich’s big chance? 



If Saturday night’s debate was bad news for Marco Rubio, Martin argues it was good news for John Kasich.

“I’ve been waiting for Kasich to deliver in a debate and he really appeared to do that this weekend,” Martin says. “He just stayed even-keel and positive and stood back and watched Christie take down Rubio. I wonder if that opened the door for Kasich to slip in and take second.”

One of the biggest reasons for Kasich’s opportunity is New Hampshire’s preponderance of independent voters, who can cast their ballot in either party’s primary.

“There’s no reason to think Hillary will close the gap on Sanders, so if an independent voter really wants to feel they did something with their vote, they’ll go into the Republican booth,” Martin says. “Kasich really appeals to the New Hampshire moderate. He took Medicare money from the Affordable Care Act and he has a message that would make someone considering the Democratic Party cross the line and vote for him, which is why Kasich placed all his chips in New Hampshire.”

Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts who can discuss: 

  • economic messages in political campaigns
  • presidential campaign strategy

Debate bumps, and pitfalls 



As the races for the Democratic and Republican nominations heat up, the debates are becoming feistier by the week. When New Hampshire voters hit the ballot booths tonight, Voth predicts each party’s most recent debate will weigh heavily on the minds of voters.

“Rubio’s weak performance will likely hurt him,” Voth says. “And the extent of Sanders’ probably victory in New Hampshire was improved by his debate performance.”

Voth expects Trump to come out on top of the packed Republican primary field, followed by Kasich, Ted Cruz, Rubio, Chris Christie and Ben Carson.

Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs who can discuss:

  • debate prep
  • debate strategy
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season


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