New Hampshire primary voters are notorious for making up their minds who they are going to vote for late — often just days or hours before their ballot is cast. In an interesting article at WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, Frank Perullo and Michael McLaughlin of The Novus Group, tell us that “younger, middle and upper-middle class, establishment GOP women may swing this election.”
To get to that conclusion they analyzed the demographics of undecided New Hampshire voters across four polls that WBUR/MassINC Polling Group conducted over the past four months along with enhanced New Hampshire voter files. According to Perullo and McLaughlin, they found some interesting data that the presidential campaigns “have likely observed and are probably acting upon this weekend” in their get out the vote efforts:
A majority (55 percent) of undecided voters are women. Given that women represented only 45 percent of total respondents and historically the majority of voters in the New Hampshire GOP primary have been men, this is a significant variance.
Despite the tendency of unenrolled voters to break for Democrats, the fence-sitting among women does not appear to be impacted by the presence of Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ballot.
These women actually tend to be more a part of the GOP establishment than their male counterparts: 71 percent of undecided women are registered Republicans, nearly the same (70 percent) as women who have picked a candidate. Comparatively, 60 percent of undecided men are registered GOP, down from the 68 percent of decided men who are registered.
This gender gap grows even greater when looking at younger women voters: 58 percent of undecideds under 50 are women, and 60 percent of undecideds under 35 are women.
The bottom line:
Combining all of these factors, an image begins to emerge of younger, middle and upper-middle class, establishment GOP women who may swing this election.
What does this big data mean for the micro-targeting of a modern get out the vote New Hampshire ground game? According to Perullo and McLaughlin, it depends on the candidate.
Donald Trump: This is bad news for the Donald because he has one of the worst gender gaps of any candidate. Women comprise only 38 percent of his supporters. Given this makeup of undecided voters, Trump has likely peaked in New Hampshire with his 30 percent.
John Kasich: Kasich is the only candidate to do worse than Trump with women. Only 37 percent of his supporters are female, significantly limiting his ability to connect with the remaining undecideds.
Ted Cruz: Cruz is a bit better off than Trump. Cruz has 42 percent support among women. The women who do support Cruz have a similar demographic profile as undecided women. Forty-eight percent of his female supporters are middle or upper-middle class and 84 percent are registered Republicans. With the right messaging Cruz could improve his support among women.
Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush: Ignoring Carly Fiorina, just like the ABC New Hampshire GOP Debate organizers, Perullo and McLaughlin tell us that Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are the only two candidates whose supporters are majority women:
The party affiliation of women supporting both candidates is similar to that of the undecided voters, however not as many count themselves as middle or upper-middle class. Seventy-three percent of women supporting Rubio are registered Republicans, and 40 percent are middle or upper-middle class. Bush’s female supporters are 75 percent registered Republicans and 44 percent middle or upper-middle class.
This analysis is interesting and there is little to quibble with about the Perullo and McLaughlin analysis. Yes, Rubio and Bush will be targeting their ground games to reach middle and upper-middle class younger GOP women. Rubio, even after his off night in the New Hampshire GOP debate, may still finish second. But even though Bush finally had a good moment in a debate when he nailed Trump on on his abuse of eminent domain, I can’t see Bush rising.
And one final note. Perullo and McLaughlin did not have one word to say about Chris Christie. That says a great deal about Christie’s failing campaign.