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The Lid: New Hampshire Independents Pick Their Contest

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos... Ben Carson was mocked by the political press corps earlier this week for taking time off the road to get “a fresh pair of clothes.” Which is ironic because most of the same people who made fun of him have now been on the road so long they’ve been reduced to Febreezing their socks.

THE LID

‘16 from 30,000: If you’ve paid even passing attention to the upcoming New Hampshire primary, you’ve seen dozens of stories about the role that independent voters traditionally play in the contest. (Bonus points for the ones that included a full trifecta of New Hampshire voter cliches: “hard-nosed, “flinty” and “Live Free or Die!”)

But buzzwords aside, these folks do matter, particularly when there’s an open contest on BOTH sides of the aisle. Undeclared voters can vote in EITHER primary, although they have to chose a Republican or Democratic ballot. Typically, they’ve participated in what’s viewed as the more competitive of the two contests. In 2008, for example, about 42 percent of Democratic ballots cast came from independent voters, compared to about 34 percent on the GOP side. Our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls out this week show a commanding lead for Bernie Sanders over Clinton, while Donald Trump remains on top - but by a smaller margin - over his GOP rivals. Our question: Which side gets more love from those flinty indies -- and could a bigger turnout on one side create some unexpected dynamics on the other?

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

Marco Rubio received the endorsement of the Sheldon Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday.

From the new new NBC/WSJ/Marist: Trump holds lead, while Rubio makes gains in the Granite State.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicts "record" turnout for this Tuesday's presidential primary, NBC’s Kailani Koenig reports.

Today’s Tales from the Trail: It’s been a snow day in New Hampshire, and backstage at last night’s Dem debate.

And from First Read this AM: The feistiest moments from last night’s debate.

FOR THE RECORD…

“None of her matches resulted in an actual date, she said.”

-- The kicker in a Reuters story about women using the dating app Tinder to promote Bernie Sanders.