For a glorious stretch back at the beginning of October, it seemed like the election was all but in the bag for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But things changed, and this final stretch has been a nail-biter. Those who follow polling data are particularly interested in the state of New Hampshire, leading some to ask an ominous question: Will Donald Trump win if he takes New Hampshire? While Republican presidential nominee Trump's path to victory remains narrow, it's certainly a possibility.
According to an analysis at The Daily Beast, Trump can achieve 270 electoral votes if a win in New Hampshire is supplemented by wins in Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina, in addition to winning all of the states that appear to be solidly Republican. Current projections at the polling aggregation website FiveThirtyEight show that Clinton has a 68.3 percent chance of winning New Hampshire's four electoral college votes.
Likewise, individual poll results from New Hampshire showed a Clinton lead on Monday. The CNN polling average showed Clinton leading by three points, while a poll released Monday from the University of New Hampshire shows Clinton with a 11-point lead in a four-way race. The same University of New Hampshire poll revealed a tight Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Maggie Hassan, who is the governor of New Hampshire. The poll, which has a 3.7 percent margin of error, shows Hassan leading by five points.
Given that New Hampshire has only four electoral votes while the key swing state of Florida has 29, it's probably the Senate race that explains New Hampshire's importance on the eve of the election. A recent The New York Times article on the Senate race states that "Ms. Hassan and Ms. Ayotte, both well known to voters here, are on a desperate hunt for every last vote in the state’s grocery stores, taverns, Rotary clubs, Burger King drive-throughs and even town dumps, in one of the nation’s tightest and most expensive Senate races."
President Obama held a campaign event Monday night at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, hosting more than 7,000 people in his second-to-last campaign event, according to The Boston Globe. During the event, Obama reiterated New Hampshire's importance in the general election, telling the crowd that "it’s a small state, but it’s an important state. There are some scenarios where Hillary doesn’t win if she doesn’t win New Hampshire."
For now, the numbers give cause for cautious optimism in New Hampshire, though a recent Time analysis characterizes the state's voters as "famously fickle." The state picked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Clinton in the February primary, though Clinton beat Obama in the New Hampshire primary eight years ago. Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary in February, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich coming in second.
In an open letter to the Republican Party published this weekend, New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen wrote that he intends to support Gov. Kasich via a write-in vote on Tuesday. He also noted that he will "vote with enthusiasm" for Sen. Ayotte. "I think Hillary will win nationally and will carry NH. Math matters," Cullen wrote. Unfortunately for Cullen, many in his party don't trust the solid math behind some of the country's most reliable polling data.
The polls currently show both Clinton and Hassan leading in New Hampshire. We'll find out tomorrow whether the math behind these predictions was solid.