Nobody knows what the heck is going on in New Hampshire

I’m not here to shoot down Allahpundit’s analysis of the new early-state polling from yesterday, but I think there are still definite questions left to be answered. We’re down to the wire in terms of who will take the first primary contest in the 2020 race and the newest NBC/Marist poll of the Granite State seems to make one thing clear. Either the voters there change their minds more often than their socks or the pollsters simply don’t know what’s going on. It’s generally the same four or possibly five names near the top of the heap, but the order keeps changing on a weekly, if not daily basis. Let’s start with the topline of what this one turned up. (NBC News)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg lead the Democratic presidential race in New Hampshire, while the top four Democratic candidates all enjoy early advantages against President Donald Trump in hypothetical general-election matchups in the Granite State.

In the initial NBC News/Marist state poll of the 2020 presidential race, Sanders gets the support of 22 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, with Buttigieg at 17 percent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden follows at 15 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at 13 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at 10 percent.

At this point, I’d normally go digging through the crosstabs to see if there were any notable trends or weaknesses for any of the candidates, but these numbers are seeming less and less meaningful at this point. As of today, they’ve got Bernie Sanders on top, barely outside the margin of error. Buttigieg and Biden are nipping at his heels, with Warren continuing to look as if she’s out of the running for a first place finish. The only shocker is that Amy Klobuchar has climbed up to double digits (barely) for what appears to be only the second time.

But in just the past two weeks, Monmouth has had Buttigieg leading, the Boston Herald had Biden well out in front, and the Boston Globe had Sanders and Biden basically tied.

Just for another data point in favor of the pollsters being confused, during the exact same period that the Globe had Sanders and Biden at 16 and 15 respectively, the WBUR/MassINC poll had Sanders slaying Biden 29-24 with Buttigieg in second place at 17. I realize that polling can and will produce some outliers every once in a while, but in New Hampshire right now it looks as if any of these polls could wind up being outliers.

To be fair, things in Iowa really aren’t much clearer. There are fewer polls from nationally recognized firms to draw on there, but the ones we do have are also producing something of a muddled mess. The latest NY Times/Siena poll has Sanders crushing Biden 25-17 (with Buttigieg in second at 18). But only days earlier, the FRA/David Binder poll had Biden lapping the field at 24 with poor Bernie stuck back in fourth place at 14. Only the week before, Monmouth showed Biden similarly leading second-place Sanders 24-18 while the Des Moines Register flipped the script with Bernie in the lead at 20 and Uncle Joe trailing in fourth place at 15.

We all know that each poll has its own margin of error, but cumulatively, the swings in support for the four major candidates across all January polls are simply off the charts. Looking at the maximum and minimum values in New Hampshire, Biden could be anywhere from 26 to 14 while Sanders might be at 29 or 16, depending on who you ask. Similarly, in Iowa, Biden is somewhere between 24 and 15 while Sanders might be 25 or 14.

Is it any wonder that the Senators are so desperate to get away from the impeachment circus and back out on the trail in these two states? At the rate the numbers are shifting, we may wake up the day after Iowa and New Hampshire go to vote and find out that Klobuchar won both states. Yeesh.

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