What To Look For Tonight In New Hampshire

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Polls close in the remaining New Hampshire towns within an hour, at which point we will begin seeing results begin coming in.  Here’s how to interpret the results by location.  Romney, as you might expect, must do well in the southern tier counties – particularly Rockingham and Hillsborough.  If he gets over 40% in these counties, he will have a good night.  In terms of towns, this means doing well in Derry, Bedford and Salem.

Ron Paul, meanwhile, will hope to draw well along the Connecticut River towns on the western mid-part of the state, such as Lebanon and Hanover, where there’s lots of college students and a strong Democratic presence.   Huntsman, however, will be competing for some of these college students as well as with voters in Romney’s strongholds.  Generally speaking, he wants to reprise the McCain coalition from 2008.  That means doing well in Hanover, Concord, and Keene.

Gingrich spent a lot of time focusing on the more rural areas, particularly in northern New Hampshire (Coos County).  These areas don’t have a lot of voters, but he’s hoping to piece together a strong turnout based on many smaller vote totals.  Santorum will be competing for some of these voters, but he also wants to draw heavily in highly populated blue-collar areas down south like Manchester, Merrimack and Rochester, which have a strong Catholic vote and Tea party support.

If there’s one bellwether town in New Hampshire, let it be Nashua – it has a relatively diverse population.

So, how is the vote likely to go?  As always, I’m relying not on any sophisticated voting model. Instead, as I did with Iowa, I’m going to rely on the most recent polling data.  This time, however, I’m going to correct the mistake I made in Iowa by ignoring late trends.  In New Hampshire, recent polls suggest both Huntsman and, to a lesser extent, Gingrich, are trending up.   So…..drum roll please… here’s what we should see when the dust clears:

Romney 35%

Huntsman 18.5%

Paul 18%

Gingrich 13%

Santorum 11%

Remember, I’m a professional.  You shouldn’t do this at home. No wagering please.

I’ll be back on in about 15 minutes for live blogging.  Please join!

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