Brady: What to look for today in New Hampshire

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AP

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul appear during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Jace Brady
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Last week, Iowa caucus-attendees had the opportunity to cast their votes for their preferred candidates. Winners were declared, momentum was gained, and several candidates felt the results compelled them to leave the race.

This week, New Hampshire will have the opportunity to echo the beliefs of Iowa or to change to direction of the race. This first-in-the-nation primary has a great opportunity to influence the race by further winnowing the field, shifting the momentum, and determining who is most fit to win the moderate vote.

The New Hampshire primary has different implication for different candidates. Those who performed poorly in Iowa may be able to overcome the loss with solid performances in the Granite State. The Republican gubernatorial trio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie, have the most to gain by winning the primary. All three are determined to be the establishment candidate, yet none have been able to rise above the plethora of candidates saturating the Republican primary. However, if one of these men could win the contest, he could likely begin to coalesce support and force the others out of the candidate.

After a second place finish in Iowa, New Hampshire is a must win for businessman Donald Trump. As a candidate who claims he wins so much he gets tired of winning, his Iowa loss may have been refreshing, but a loss in New Hampshire would seriously hamper Trump’s presidential ambitions.

Winning is not a requirement for Marco Ruibo, but it would certainly accelerate his recent momentum. The polls suggest Trump would be hard to beat in New Hampshire, making the feat even more impressive for Rubio. While a victory is not necessary, second place may be needed to survive the upcoming onslaught of likely unfriendly Southern states on March 1.

Ted Cruz will perhaps have the easiest time in New Hampshire, coming off an Iowa victory. Few expect him to do terribly well in the much more moderate state. Cruz has little to lose, but maintaining his place in the polls and finishing in the top three would greatly help his chances of winning the nomination as we head into South Carolina.

The Democratic Party has a potentially much more interesting night in store than the Republicans. Bernie Sanders has surprised the nation with his firm opposition to Hillary Clinton’s supposedly inevitable nomination. While the calendar after New Hampshire looks ominous for the Northeasterner, a commanding win could change his chances. Clinton will desperately try to finish within 10 points of Sanders. After essentially tying in Iowa, a landslide victory for Sanders will make Clinton look a lot more vulnerable.

Wednesday morning, we may wake to a very different political environment in the United States. Several candidates will likely end their pursuit for the White House as the results roll in, and others may see their fortunes positively change. The state of New Hampshire may be small, but its citizenry has great power and may ultimately determine who the next president of the United States will be, or at least who it won’t.

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