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When it comes to these early primaries, the winner isn't necessarily the person who won. It's the margins vs expectations that matter.

With that in mind, let's consider the final polls.

Final New Hampshire Polls

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Performance vs Polls

  • Sanders: - 2.8
  • Buttigieg: +3.1
  • Warren: -1.7
  • Biden: -2.6
  • Klobuchar: +8.1

I see one clear winner and one runner-up winner.

Neither is Bernie Sanders.

New Hampshire Delegate Count

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If those estimates hold up, Buttigieg will have won the most delegates in Iowa and tied in New Hampshire.

Few if any expected Klobuchar to win 25% of the New Hampshire delegates.

Dropping Out

The field narrowed tonight.

Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang dropped out this evening.

Tom Steyer denies rumors that he is dropping out.

The point is moot. Everyone to the right of Biden in the above image is toast.

Warren Crippled

Senator Elizabeth Warren is crippled.

However, unlike Amy Klobuchar, she has a good national organization. Warren can stay in as long as she wants.

If she does, it will likely take votes away from Sanders. That matters.

And if you watched the speeches tonight, it almost seemed like Warren was rooting for Klobuchar. In regards to women, Warren again referenced her claim that Bernie Sanders said a woman could not win. That's an allegation that Sanders denies.

During one of the debates, Warren stated "Only two people on this stage have never lost an election". The Two people were herself and Klobuchar.

Warren may be crippled, but she is out for Bernie.

Increased Odds of No Winner

The New Hampshire Primary increases the odds of a contested convention.

A lot can happen, but the odds of no winner are now about 30% in my estimation.

That is up from 25% in my previous forecast. For details please see Bloomberg Soars to 15% in Latest Quinnipiac Poll

Here is the key point: Nearly any setup in which 3 candidates can maintain 15% or more of the vote until the end leads to a negotiated convention. And it does not have to be the same three in each state.

Tonight did nothing to resolve the key issue.

Bernie has die hard supporters and a huge national organization, but the exit polls show all the late deciders went to Butrigieg or Klobuchar.

Back-Handed Compliment

Nice reference to age.

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Spotlight Nevada

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Nevada Debate, February 19

Anyone who thinks they know what's going on in Nevada based those polls is more than a bit mistaken. The polls are too stale.

Yang dropped out. Steyer has not qualified for the February 19 debate and is highly unlikely to.

So, take Steyer's 10% and Yang's 4% and allocate them elsewhere? But where?

Spotlight South Carolina

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If Klobuchar polls at 2.0% in the next poll, I will eat my hat. Yang is gone.

Allegedly, Tom Steyer has close to 19% of the vote but he will not be on the stage in the Nevada primary based on new DNC debate requirements. So take his 18% and allocate them elsewhere.

But who do they switch to? Biden or Klobuchar would be my first two guesses.

The one total that makes sense to me is Warren at 10% or so.

We need a flurry of polls, and to be meaningful, they all have to be after tonight.

Easy Wins Gone

The easy winds for Bernie Sanders are now behind him. And arguably, he did not even win. Buttigieg is in the delegate count lead.

Who expected that?

Bloomberg is a Wildcard

Michael Bloomberg is an enormous wildcard. It's a case of 3 Down 1 to Go: Bloomberg Hits 3rd Qualifier for NV Debate

If Bloomberg qualifies and accepts an invite, expect howls.

The DNC modified the rules for the Nevada Debate and that rule changed opened the door for Bloomberg.

Rigged System

Bernie Supporters Scream "Rigged System" in response to the rule change.

Assume Bloomberg Makes the Stage

If Michael Bloomberg makes the stage, what then?

The answer depends on my previous key point: Nearly any setup in which 3 candidates can maintain 15% or more of the vote until the end leads to a negotiated convention. And it does not have to be the same three in each state.

We could easily see three candidates topping 15% in the Nevada caucus. Four is not out of the question.

Nevada has 36 pledged delegates. But that count is not meaningful. For comparison purposes, California has 415 pledged delegates.

Momentum Matters

Momentum is what matters at this point.

Sanders, Klobuchar, Bloomberg, and Buttigieg all have a good shot at momentum. Biden needs to recover either in Nevada or South Carolina.

It's amazing how otherwise nearly meaningless Electoral College states have changed the focus. Had the first primary been in South Carolina, Biden would likely be hugely in the lead.

Regardless the key issue remains. No one is on a clear path to a majority of delegates and Tuesday night proved it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock