One Day to Go

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 8.20.06 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN

Monday, February 8, 2016

 

 

Good Monday morning.

All the public polling leading into the final 48 hours before voting ends in New Hampshire on Tuesday has consistently shown two things: On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont leads Hillary Clinton; and Donald J. Trump is well ahead on the Republican side, while the rest of the field is a muddled jumble for second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth place.

What is more, a large portion of the likely Republican primary electorate appears ready to make a late decision. With all that in mind, the final hours are significant. So it was that Mr. Trump was holding one of his rare traditional retail campaign stops at a diner in Manchester on Sunday morning, before heading to a rally. Instead of using his trademark bravado, Mr. Trump sounded a more sober note after the Republican debate on Saturday and throughout the next day. Asked if he would make any bold predictions of victory, Mr. Trump replied: “No, no, no. I’ve done that too much, too long.” Mr. Trump, who has seemed to be feeling the rigors of the campaign trail this weekend just as he did in the final weekend before the Iowa caucuses, will hold his first four-event day on Monday.

The rest of the field has been left to duke it out and try to reap benefits from Senator Marco Rubio of Florida’s poor debate showing. It is clear that Mr. Rubio had a bad night, but it is far less clear who, if anyone, will benefit.  Jeb Bush may have no clear path to the nomination right now, but he had some of his biggest crowds to date on Sunday. Then again, Mr. Rubio also had big crowds. Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio has been seen to be doing well and vying for second place, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has been trying to capitalize on his rout of Mr. Rubio with a victory lap about how much he enjoyed it. And Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is hoping not to finish too far behind in a state that was never going to favor him.

As for the Democrats, Mrs. Clinton has been performing far better on the stump than she had in the lead-up to Iowa. But the Clintons and their allies are showing signs of frustration at a race that has proved more difficult than anticipated against Mr. Sanders. Mrs. Clinton’s allies are braced for a New Hampshire loss; the only question is the margin.