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Here’s an abbreviated version of my earlier argument about how the New Hampshire primary will be spun and what to look for to keep up with the media mavens manipulating the message.
Most eyes will be on Rubio, who won the post-Iowa spin but stumbled during Saturday’s debate (which reminds me of Cruz’s stumbles immediately preceding Iowa, which should provide hope for Rubio supporters). This is fair, because this is Rubio’s moment to overperform.
Where are Trump’s numbers? If he underperforms the polls as he did in Iowa, look for some “trouble ahead” stories.
Who’s third place? Hard as it is to understand at first glance, Rubio needs Cruz to come in third so the race narrows after New Hampshire. Rubio has some structural advantages after Super Tuesday and, therefore, needs to eliminate Christie, Kasich, and Bush before South Carolina.
Does Rubio overperform? The most recent RCP average has Rubio in second with 14 percent: if he hits 20 when the votes are actually counted, #Marcomentum is for real. If he can’t get more than a point or two ahead of his nearest rival (especially if it’s Cruz) he’ll have a hard time with the spin.
Good luck to all of the candidates this evening!