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: This is a 'tough day for millions of Americans' Bernie Sanders's Inauguration Day, imagined: What could've been Booker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals MORE likely has a large enough lead over rival Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonHuckabee praises Clinton’s inauguration stop Sanders: This is a 'tough day for millions of Americans' Pelosi on Dems' approach to Trump: Look at Bush 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 TrumpWill America really unite behind Trump? Huckabee praises Clinton’s inauguration stop Tim Allen: Inauguration and protests 'make you really like this country' MORE winning the Republican primary; his lead remains around 20 points.
The race for second place in New Hampshire is tight, with Marco RubioMarco RubioTillerson met with top State official: report McCain ‘very concerned’ about Tillerson Top Dem: Don’t bring Tillerson floor vote if he doesn’t pass committee MORE, Jeb Bush, Ted CruzTed CruzBooker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals Caitlyn Jenner to attend Trump inauguration: report Trump’s UN pick threads needle on Russia, NATO 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.