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Final Polls Begin To Close In New Hampshire


In New Hampshire, most polls are now closed. The last few close at the end of this hour. And results are just beginning to come in, so let's take a look at where things stand. Here in our studio, we have NPR's lead political editor Domenico Montanaro and Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg along with Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini. Welcome to all three of you.




SHAPIRO: Domenico, we still have very few results.


SHAPIRO: But what can you tell us, from what we know so far, about who voted today?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, the results are just trickling in so not really much to report at this point on polling. Like you mentioned, polls are going to be closing - all of them - at 8 o'clock here. But we know that the shape of this electorate - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders is, just like in Iowa, winning young voters by huge margins.

SHAPIRO: In Iowa, it was 80-some percent. Are you talking about that kind of huge margins?

MONTANARO: Yeah. It's looking that similar, kind of, like, 60-point, you know, margin. But these exit polls can change, and they will change a bit. But you know, the margin of error is certainly not quite there where it'll change it that much.


MONTANARO: So we know that. You know, on the issues, we know that Republicans said the economy, government and terrorism are among their biggest concerns, but Democrats said that income inequality was their biggest concern while terrorism was at the bottom of the list. So it really tells you about how different both sides are.

SHAPIRO: Anna Greenberg, of course, income inequality is Bernie Sanders' big talking point - any indication of whether he is likely to have as wide a lead as the polls coming into today suggested?

GREENBERG: I'm sure he will. I mean, the polls have been pretty consistent for a while, and in fact, Democrats were more likely to say that they made up their mind earlier than Republicans did. So i think the race there has been set for some time. And the shape of the electorate looks different than previous cycles. This electorate is more liberal, according to the exit polls. You also, for example - income inequality being number one, it's hard to imagine in 2008, that would've been sort of the No. 1 issue for Democrats. So the landscape, at least in New Hampshire, has changed since '08, looks much more liberal and, you know - big lead for Bernie Sanders.

SHAPIRO: And Patrick, what are we seeing on the Republican side?

RUFFINI: So in contrast to the Democratic side, almost half of voters on the Republican side decided in the last three days. And...

SHAPIRO: Really?

RUFFINI: And the candidates that are seen as gaining momentum from that are John Kasich, who's - 61 percent of his vote came from late deciders. Jeb Bush - 51 percent of his vote came from late deciders. And Donald Trump actually had fewer late deciders - same pattern as we saw in Iowa. Most of his vote was locked in before. The question is - he had a pretty high base in New Hampshire to start out with.

MONTANARO: And what we were all wondering about how much would that debate performance by Marco Rubio...


MONTANARO: ...Who was kind of surging - we'd found on the ground there before Saturday's debate that he had a bit of Marcomentum (ph) as they were calling it. People were...

SHAPIRO: But he got very bad reviews on Saturday night.

MONTANARO: He did for a couple of repeat lines that he'd made. Now, we weren't sure would that, you know - would that matter as much. What turns out is that half of - more than half of the people in the exit polls said they not only made up their minds in the last few days but that the debates mattered.

SHAPIRO: Well, because the Democratic race, at least so far, appears to be shaping up as more predictable than the Republican race, let's spend a little bit longer talking about the Republican side. Ted Cruz was the big winner coming out of Iowa, and nobody has mentioned his name tonight - anything so far in the numbers to reflect how he might be doing in New Hampshire, not a state that is necessarily cut out for him?

RUFFINI: He has not necessarily raised expectations that high for New Hampshire. New Hampshire's a very different state than Iowa. There's not a lot of social conservatives in New Hampshire. Donald Trump, you know, probably locks up a lot of the conservative vote in New Hampshire, so he had wisely not necessarily raised expectations about how he would do in New Hampshire. But one thing we do know from this process is that New Hampshire does not follow the lead of Iowa. Almost, you know - and that - even when it...

MONTANARO: It's very contrarian in that way.

SHAPIRO: A much less conservative electorate there.

RUFFINI: Even when it seems like they will, 2008 and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton coming back...

SHAPIRO: And historically, New Hampshire has had a better record of choosing nominees and presidents than Iowa has - Anna?

GREENBERG: Well, I think New Hampshire is - it's still a whiter state than many states - than the rest of the country, so in that sense, it's not. But I do think it is a little more of a moderate state, particularly when you look at the base of the Republican Party compared to Iowa.

SHAPIRO: What about the fact that we seem to have had close to record if not record turnout in New Hampshire tonight?

MONTANARO: Well, it's really interesting. I mean, I think that that tells you about how much, you know, enthusiasm and energy there is. And one of the indicators of, you know, what matters on that side of things is the number of independents in the state. Forty-four percent of the state registered voters are independents.

SHAPIRO: And they can vote with either party up to election day.

MONTANARO: They can vote with either party up to election day.

SHAPIRO: To primary day.

MONTANARO: That's right - in either primary. Some people were deciding late, and it turned out that more, slightly, independents voted in the Republican primaries, a switch from 2008 when, overwhelmingly, they voted the Democratic one.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's lead political editor Domenico Montanaro, also, democratic pollster Anne Greenberg with the firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and republican pollster Patrick Ruffini of Echelon Insights. All three of you will be with us in the hours ahead, and I look forward to talking to you again soon.

MONTANARO: Thank you, Ari.

GREENBERG: Thank you.

RUFFINI: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.