Going into New Hampshire’s Tuesday primary, the poll numbers uniformly suggest businessman Donald Trump is headed for a win, probably a double-digit win. It would not only give Trump his first nominating contest victory, it would indicate that, despite his second-place finish in Iowa, he may have a very long run ahead of him.
To put it simply, New Hampshire should not be a good state for Trump. When you look at his supporters in polls, they tend to have more of a blue-collar look, with lower college education rates and lower incomes, going by data in the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
But those numbers don’t square well with the overall population of New Hampshire, which stands out for sitting well above the national average on those counts, according to Census data.
Around 34 percent of New Hampshire residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while overall just 29 percent of the U.S. population has earned the degree, according to the Census. And 44 percent of Granite Staters earn above $75,000, compared with just 35 percent of U.S. residents nationally.
And New Hampshire has actually done fairly well in the recovery from the Great Recession. Median household income in the state is up more than $2,500 since 2010, according to Census.
In fact, the numbers are better in the state across a long list of measures: a lower poverty rate (8.9 percent versus 15.6 percent nationally), lower unemployment rates (3 percent versus about 5 percent nationally), a lower percentage without insurance (7 percent versus 10 percent nationally).
In other words, if, as the polls suggest, Trump’s base is built on a foundation of Americans who feel they have been left behind in America in the 21st Century, New Hampshire is not a treasure trove of those voters.
If his campaign thrives on voter anger, the numbers suggest there isn’t a lot for New Hampshire to be angry about. To use Trump’s frame for the electorate, there has been a lot of “winning” going on in the Granite State.
On Tuesday night, keep a particularly close eye on Rockingham and Hillsborough counties in southern New Hampshire. They’re better educated and have higher incomes than New Hampshire as a whole.
If the New York real estate tycoon scores a big win on Tuesday and carries Rockingham and Hillsborough, it may be a sign that Trump is well positioned for the weeks ahead. And Iowa, where he came in second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will look like more of an aberration.
New Hampshire should not be a good fit for Trump and his message. But if turns out to be, the path ahead on the GOP side is full of states with populations who are better socio-economic matches for Trump’s army, such as South Carolina, which follows next for the Republicans.
And he would be marching toward them out of New Hampshire with good deal of momentum on his side.