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January 27, 2000 Contact: Melissa Ring (617) 496-9761

Why Does New Hampshire Generate Momentum for a "Surprise" Winner?

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The latest weekly Shorenstein Center Poll revealed a pattern that may be a factor in New Hampshire's contribution to candidate momentum. When respondents in the Center's national survey of January 19-23 were asked which candidates they thought would win the Republican and Democratic primaries in New Hampshire, the large majority said they didn't know or cited the leader in national polls.

Americans clearly are not tuned to the polls coming out of New Hampshire. Although John McCain had the lead in New Hampshire polls during the Center's national survey, only 9% indicated they expected him to win. Twenty-nine percent said they expected George W. Bush to win.

Thus, if McCain holds onto his lead in New Hampshire, his victory will "surprise" most Americans, if not the pundits. Bush will be the "surprise" loser. This element of surprise will likely boost the "psychological" impact of New Hampshire's primary on Americans' view of the Republican race.

The survey results reported here are from a nationwide telephone survey of 1,004 adults conducted January 19-23, 2000. The poll has a sampling error of ±3%. The Vanishing Voter Project is a study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Funding for the project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The project is co-directed by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, and by Marvin Kalb, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center's office in Washington.

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