A snowstorm expected to blow through Tuesday's voting in New Hampshire threatens to dampen turnout and scramble an already turbulent presidential contest.
While Democratic candidate Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders sings Obama's praises for stopping Dakota pipeline Feds deny permit for Dakota Access pipeline Of principle and compromise: A paradox within America’s political discourse MORE likely has a large enough lead over rival Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonArmed man arrested at DC pizzeria targeted by conspiracy theory Clinton opponents vow to continue their pursuit ExxonMobil CEO, retired admiral will meet with Trump about State: report MORE to secure a win whatever the weather — the latest polls show him ahead by 10 and 23 percentage points in New Hampshire — a depressed turnout could have a more significant effect on the Republican side.
Polls still tip toward Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWould Aretha Franklin perform at Trump inauguration? ‘Good question.’ Ryan: Dakota pipeline pause is ‘big-government decision-making at its worst’ Ivanka was finalizing Japanese business deal at time of Trump, Abe meeting: report MORE winning the Republican primary; his lead remains around 20 points.
The race for second place in New Hampshire is tight, with Marco RubioMarco RubioThe ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Graham to roll out extension of Obama immigration program Trump and Cuba: A murky future MORE, Jeb Bush, Ted CruzTed CruzTrump could be the most significant president of our time Cruz: I'd rather have Trump talk to Taiwan than Cuba or Iran Lewandowski: Top Cruz aide advised Trump team before NH primary MORE and John Kasich all jostling within the polls' margins of error. Chris Christie, who had a strong debate performance on Saturday night, ranks sixth and is around 5 points behind Bush in the latest surveys.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell noted Monday with its latest tracking poll that "New Hampshire voters are known for delivering surprises and with snow forecast into tomorrow, the tracking poll looks at two possible scenarios for the outcome based on voter turnout.
"In the event of snow and low voter turnout, Sanders still leads Clinton 55 percent to 40 percent; and Trump, Rubio and Kasich gain support while Bush loses ground, but Trump still leads by 22 percent. In the event of a primary with high turnout, Sanders’ lead grows to 57 percent over 39 percent support for Clinton and on the Republican side, Trump’s lead stays at 22 percent."
GOP consultant Ron Kaufman, a Bush supporter, said he believes bad weather would help candidates who have spent more time on the ground talking to voters and building their organizations in New Hampshire. That includes Bush, a former Florida governor, and the race's current governors, Kasich of Ohio and Christie of New Jersey, he said.
“Trump will under-achieve, Rubio will under-achieve, Cruz will under-achieve,” Kaufman predicted as he spoke to The Hill by telephone Monday while knocking on doors in the state to drum up support.
“The three governors will over-achieve; the question is by how much.”
But Trump was unfazed by the prospect of snow. "I hear we are going to do well, but the snow is out," he said at a Monday afternoon rally. "What effect will the snow have? It can't have an effect! We can handle the snow."
Ben Kamisar contributed.