Iowa and New Hampshire share some things in common: Both are largely rural, neither have significant minority populations and their state economies are in comparatively good shape, with low unemployment and poverty rates. But past primaries have shown that who wins the Iowa caucus doesn’t usually win in New Hampshire -– Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008 are the most recent examples. Looking at the NBC News Entrance Polls from last week in Iowa and results from today’s exit poll in New Hampshire can show us why.
In Iowa, evangelicals made up 64 percent of Republican caucus-goers this year, and 34 percent of them voted for Ted Cruz, handing him the first-place ticket out of the state. But New Hampshire has fewer evangelicals -– today’s exit polls show that just 25 percent of Republican primary voters consider themselves to be born-again Christians.
Iowa Republicans also tilt further to the right. Last week, 40 percent of Iowa Republican caucus-goers identified as “very conservative,” but just 27 percent of New Hampshire Republicans considered themselves very conservative in today’s exit poll. Cruz outperformed among this group in Iowa, grabbing 44 percent of their support, compared to just 15 percent who backed Marco Rubio and 21 percent who supported Donald Trump. In New Hampshire, Trump outperformed Cruz among "very conservative" voters 31 percent to 25 percent.
Today, 45 percent of New Hampshire Republican voters were somewhat conservative – and 27 percent were moderates. In Iowa, Rubio had the highest share of the somewhat conservatives (29%), while Trump did best among Republican moderates (34%).