New Hampshire is, historically and demographically, the GOP’s canary in the coal mine. And all the canaries are dead.
Let me explain…or rather, let Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight explain:
[New Hampshire] is more “elastic” than other swing states. By elastic — the way I’m using the the term is borrowed from economics — I mean that it tends to swing more with the national trends. Specifically, New Hampshire has an elasticity score of 1.19, which means that for every point that the national polls move, we’d expect New Hampshire to move by 1.19 points in the same direction. Thus, if there’s a 5-point shift back toward Trump nationally, we’d expect New Hampshire to swing by slightly more than that, by around 6 points instead.
In college (at the University of New Hampshire, where I minored in economics), I learned that price inelasticity is a consumer’s tendency to stick with a brand regardless of price. Like Tide detergent or Coca-Cola. So when you see Coke price itself to a point where buyers are starting to bail, that’s bad news, industry-wide (or good news for Pepsi).
Clinton has between a 9 and 14 point lead in New Hampshire. Given that the polls are not rigged (and the election is not rigged*), and that Sen. Kelly Ayotte has spent the last year distancing herself from Trump, you’d expect the popular Republican to hold her own against Democrat challenger and sitting Governor Maggie Hassan.
And Ayotte was doing well, until recently. Then Trump offered a weak endorsement. After that, the media felt free to plumb the depths of just how nice Ayotte could be to Trump (who doesn’t return that favor). On October 3, in a debate with Hassan, Ayotte was asked of Trump if she would “point to him as a role model” for a child.
Her unfortunate answer: “Absolutely, I would do that.” It’s almost as if moderator Chris Ryan knew Trump was about to be tied to his [unmentionable]-grabbing remarks with Billy Bush. But of course, how would he know in advance?
Hassan is now running this ad all over N.H. television, and the polls reflect the damage.
Hassan is now up between 1 and 7 points in the last two polls. FiveThirtyEight gives Hassan a 65.8 percent chance of winning what should have been a safe senate seat from a popular Republican.
As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation. If the highly elastic presidential polling has moved the down ballot race in the Granite State, imagine what it’s doing in other key senate races that are more positively correlated to the top of the ticket.
The highest probability event based on FiveThirtyEight’s model is that Democrats take control 51 to 49.
The White House is pretty well lost. And now the Senate is sinking under the weight of Trump’s anchor. Thanks, Republicans. Well played.
*New Hampshire doesn’t run elections like other states. Instead of voting by county, each city or town (no matter how small) has their own election officials. This makes it, to say the least, interesting when obtaining results. I know because I helped cover the state for the primary in February working with Decision Desk HQ. It also makes N.H. especially resistant to election rigging since there are so many voting precincts. Believe me, it’s not rigged, and the polls are accurate. Trump is simply that bad.