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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

In New Hampshire, the highly reputable University of New Hampshire poll has weighed in with good news for John McCain: he leads Barack Obama by 6 points and Hillary Clinton by 3.

This poll does not really affect the electoral math much, since Thursday’s Rasmussen poll already significantly lowered expectations for Obama in the Granite State. Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about what is happening in New Hampshire, since just days ago we were talking about New Hampshire as being among that “Group of Nine” states in which Obama performed well but Clinton didn’t. And the answer, as it always is in New Hampshire, is independent voters, which make up the plurality (and by some inklings, perhaps even the majority) of its electorate. Obama trailed McCain 61/27 among New Hampshire independents in this survey (Clinton trailed him 53/30), and he’s got no chance to win the state unless he can improve upon those numbers.

Still, as we witnessed during the Democratic primary, New Hampshire voters can be notoriously fickle. I suspect that it is precisely because it is a very politically aware state. Call it a hunch, but I would guess that the per capita consumption of Hardball and Meet the Press is higher in New Hampshire than it is just about anywhere else. And if that’s the case, Obama’s difficult media cycles early this past week, when the UNH and Rasmussen polls were in the field, might have been magnified here.

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