Iowa matters if you really need a win or a surprise, but it’s New Hampshire that has had the much better track record of picking GOP winners. So there’s high-fives and maybe a toast or two with Biff and Scooter celebrating that Jeb Bush has suddenly surged in the Granite State. At least according to one outlying poll by Emerson College, Jeb is now in 2nd place at 18% behind Trump who is still sitting pretty at 35%.

It’s one poll only, and an outlier compared to other samplings, but it could signal some final shuffling of preferences among the pragmatic voters of New Hampshire. Is the old-fashioned attack apparatus brought creaking but finally functional and into action by the GOP elite starting to have an effect? The emerging wisdom of this campaign has been that attacks on Trump tend to backfire fairly quickly. Could this finally be changing? With Trump at over a third of voters and almost double Jeb in this poll – never mind the others where Jeb’s numbers are closer to a sampling error – are the attacks on Trump capable of producing serious damage?

Or will any damage that Trump suffers be entirely of his own making? Like skipping the Iowa debate. Assuming, of course, that his no-show does not prove instead to be a brilliant tactic. At this point, it appears to be a mistake. But almost every commentator has been wrong about Trump’s tactics so far.

The other interesting fact, is Massachusetts seemingly constant need to comment on politics in their neighboring state. Chris Christie polled 5% despite an endorsement by the Boston Herald, and Emerson College is located right in dowtown Boston. The communications-focused institution is of course perfectly suited to produce polls, but one wonders whether this need has more to do with the restrictive regulation-bound state’s worries about it’s low-tax, libertarian neighbor. Imagine the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a tax structure put together in Concord. How would that poll in Boston?

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