Mother Nature was kind enough to hold a blizzard at bay last week until Iowans were done caucusing. Not so in New Hampshire, where blustery winds, snow and a winter weather advisory moved in ahead of voters going to the polls today. Besides being the nation’s earliest to judge the presidential candidates, the states have other similarities — but important contrasts that stand to make the outcome quite different. Yes, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Ted Cruz won Iowa. But to New Hampshire voters, that was an unusual affair in a very different state.
Iowa’s famous late deciders have met their match. Polls say that a third to a half of New Hampshire’s likely voters remained undecided hours before the polls open. That’s a larger proportion than even Iowa: A Quinnipiac University poll released just before the caucuses found that 28 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats could change their minds at the last minute.
Turnout last week at the Iowa caucuses was a record-breaker for Republicans and nearly so for Democrats. Still, it fell far short of the norm in New Hampshire’s primary. Turnout there easily could top 60 percent this year.
Iowa’s population (3.1 million) is more than twice as large as New Hampshire’s (1.3 million), but both states are overwhelmingly white — more than 90 percent.
Cruz won by more than 3 points and Clinton by a razor-thin margin in Iowa. Polls predict New Hampshire voters will decide otherwise. The latest average of polls by RealClearPolitics shows GOP hopeful Donald Trump with a 30.7 to 14.8 percent lead over Marco Rubio, with Cruz in fourth. On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders has a 53.3 to 40.5 percent lead over Clinton.
The McClatchy Washington Bureau contributed to this report.