There is a mathematical pathway. For Haley to claim victory in New Hampshire she needs the state’s ‘undeclared’ or independent voters to turn out in record-breaking numbers, driving the turnout beyond 900,000 people, according to the Daily Mail’s pollster.
But that number is three times more than forecasters predict will go to the polls.
And it is way, way more than the 287,000 people who took part in the last competitive Republican primary in 2016.
Daily Mail pollster J.L. Partners modeled three different scenarios with different proportions of undeclared voters taking part in Tuesday’s primary. A low proportion of undeclareds shows Nikki Haley losing heavily to Donald Trump. But if it splits 50:50 Republican to undeclareds then Nikki Haley can get to within four points of the frontrunner
Our poll was conducted before Ron DeSantis dropped out on Sunday afternoon. It leaves Nikki Haley and Donald Trump going head to head in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary
Even so, Haley campaign groups are mounting a ferocious, last-minute door-knocking effort to persuade their people to get out on Tuesday. They hope good weather and a final hectic day of barnstorming by the campaign will help them.
James Johnson, co-founder of J.L. Partners, has spent the past week crunching the numbers for DailyMail.com.
Our poll, published on Tuesday morning, shows Trump cruising to victory. He leads Haley by 57 points to 37.
But that includes all sorts of assumptions and forecasts about who turns up to vote.
‘The key known unknown for this primary is the turnout of undeclared voters – those registered without party affiliation,’ said Johnson.
‘Our polling suggests a mirror image contest, with Trump leading by 32 points among voters registered as Republicans and Haley ahead by 25 points with the undeclared.
‘But the turnout of undeclared voters bears a high degree of uncertainty. Our headline figures are based on an estimated split 62 percent Republicans to 38 percent undeclared, itself informed by an initial scoping survey of 600 New Hampshire voters.
‘But that proportion of undeclared has been higher and lower in the past, reaching 45% in 2012 but down to 36% in 2016, according to exit polls.’
There are reasons why that split could be an underestimate. This time around, unlike 2016, there is not much of a Democratic primary.
Nikki Haley ‘s future in the White House race is hanging by a thread with the final DailyMail.com New Hampshire poll showing Donald Trump 20 points ahead going into the primary
Joe Biden has the race all but sewn up, and anyway because of complicating intra-party maneuvering, his name is not even on the ballot Tuesday.
With nothing much to contest in the Democratic primary, more undeclared than usual may opt to take part in the Republican primary.
If the proportion shifts to a 50:50 split, then Haley closes the gap to 14 points.
‘Nikki Haley is hoping that the combination of an uncompetitive Democratic primary with the divisive character of Donald Trump will produce a surge in undeclared turnout,’ said Johnson.
‘However, our modelling suggests this surge would truly have to be enormous.’
To get the number to a Haley win, the proportion of undeclareds in the mix to surpass 75 percent in a turnout of 975,787.
‘The secretary of state suggests that there are only 344,335 people registered as undeclared,’ said Johnson. ‘There is no path to victory for Nikki Haley.’
Haley was making one last barnstorming tour of the state on Monday. She is seen here holding 16-month-old Arthur Cowette during a campaign stop at T-Bones in Concord
But that does not mean Haley’s backers have given up. Other forcasters have different models and closer polling numbers.
Robert Schwarz, of Primary Pivot, which has been working to increase the number of undeclared voters, said he believed the proportion could go above 44 percent.
‘Our estimates are that if turnout is above 300,000 then Nikki probably has a chance of getting it to within 10 percent and if it’s like, what the secretary of state says 320,000 or above, then it could be a close race,’ he said.
New Hampshire voters often break late, said Republican strategist Jim Merrill at a Bloomberg roundtable, and Haley was hitting hard with her closing message.
‘What I’m seeing as a ward one voter in Manchester, is a campaign that has been hitting persuadable households with mail for months,’ he said. ‘No other campaign’s been doing that, maybe one or two from Ramaswamy, one or two from DeSantis, a few from Trump.’