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Our Final Forecast For The New Hampshire Primary

Because very few national polls were released after Iowa, we’ve been eagerly awaiting Monmouth University’s latest national poll even as ballots are cast in New Hampshire. That data has now been incorporated into the model, and with just a few hours until the first polling places close, we’ve frozen the forecast — candidates’ odds won’t update and no new information will be added until after New Hampshire results are available.

First, here’s what our model says about candidates’ overall chances of winning a majority of pledged delegates. Coming into tonight’s vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders is the candidate most likely to win a majority of pledged delegates overall, with a roughly a 1 in 2 (46 percent) shot. But after a Sanders majority, the next-most-likely outcome is that no single candidate will win a majority of pledged delegates, which has about a 1 in 4 (27 percent) chance of happening. Former Vice President Joe Biden is then the candidate with the next-best chance of winning a majority (14 percent) though that represents quite a fall from where he stood before the Iowa caucuses (43 percent). Meanwhile, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren both have a 1 in 20 (5 percent) shot of getting a majority of pledged delegates in the primary, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a 1 in 40 (3 percent) chance.

As for New Hampshire, our forecast suggests Sanders is likely to win the most votes, with a 2 in 3 (67 percent) shot. But Buttigieg could still pull an upset in New Hampshire, as he has about a 3 in 10 (31 percent) chance of winning the most votes. The potential for the other candidates to finish first is low, with Warren having a 1 percent shot of winning the most votes, and Biden and Klobuchar each at less than 1 percent.

The polls heading into New Hampshire have been pretty clear: Sanders has a fairly comfortable lead. Buttigieg has seen a bounce post-Iowa, but that has started to level off in recent days, which is why our forecast thinks Sanders still has the best shot of winning the most votes in New Hampshire.

In fact, things look pretty good for Sanders more generally. There haven’t been that many national polls since Iowa, but three more have come out since yesterday afternoon, and all of them show Sanders ahead of Biden to varying degrees:

  • On Monday evening, Reuters/Ipsos found Sanders leading Biden 20 percent to 17 percent, with Bloomberg close behind at 15 percent, Warren at 11 percent and Buttigieg at 8 percent. This marked a reversal from their last survey before Iowa, which had Biden ahead of Sanders, 22 percent to 19 percent. But once we adjusted the new post-Iowa survey for house effects — Ipsos hasn’t had great numbers for Biden this cycle, so our model adjusts him upward a little bit in these polls to compensate — our model treated this latest poll as a tie between him and Sanders.
  • Morning Consult’s latest national poll also found Sanders up, 25 to 22 percent, over Biden. Bloomberg, meanwhile, came in third at 17 percent while Buttigieg and Warren were tied at 11 percent. This was also a switch from Morning Consult’s last poll before Iowa, which had Biden ahead of Sanders, 28 percent to 24 percent.
  • And lastly, that Monmouth poll had the best news for Sanders as it found him up 10 points over Biden, 26 percent to 16 percent. Buttigieg and Warren were tied for third at 13 percent each, and Bloomberg was in fourth at 11 percent. And because Monmouth doesn’t have much of a house effect for any of the candidates, our model took this new survey pretty much at face value, making it a very nice poll for Sanders.

As for the last three New Hampshire surveys we have, they largely echo what other late surveys of the Granite State — and our model — show: Sanders is leading, but Buttigieg is within striking distance, while the rest of the field lags several points behind.

  • Elucd, a polling outfit started by a former Obama campaign staffer, found Sanders leading Buttigieg by 6 points, 26 percent to 20 percent, with Klobuchar back at 12 percent, Warren at 10 percent and Biden at just 8 percent. (This is our first horse-race poll from this pollster, so we can’t compare it to previous polls.)
  • Data for Progress also took a look at New Hampshire and found Sanders only slightly ahead of Buttigieg, 28 percent to 26 percent. Meanwhile, Warren and Klobuchar were battling for third place at 14 percent and 13 percent. Similar to Elucd’s poll, Biden was in the single digits (9 percent).
  • AtlasIntel had maybe the most provocative final survey of the New Hampshire race as it found Buttigieg and Sanders tied for first at 24 percent. The other main contenders were bunched together, with Klobuchar at 14 percent, Biden at 12 percent and Warren at 11 percent. Adjusting this poll for house effects in our model gave Buttigieg a 2-point lead over Sanders.

Taken together, these polls show Sanders with an edge in New Hampshire, but they suggest Buttigieg could still overtake him. It’s also possible that Klobuchar is inching toward a third-place finish, which, if it happens, could help her remain in the race for some time to come. None of the surveys offered much good news for Warren or Biden, though you can never rule out surprises in New Hampshire. Regardless, we’ll be following all the results tonight on our live blog, so please join us as we dig into the numbers and analyze what New Hampshire means for the Democratic nomination contest.

Visiting Bernie Sanders’s biggest rally in New Hampshire

Geoffrey Skelley is a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.