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Ranking the Republican candidates in N.H.


The results of the Iowa caucuses were surprising, but they won’t have that much of an impact on the New Hampshire primary. The fundamental dynamics in New Hampshire remain the same as they have for two months:

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders maintain solid leads in the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively. Ted Cruz has consolidated conservatives in New Hampshire. The so-called GOP establishment lane (John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio) is complicated, and the leader changes nearly every week.

Indeed, the greatest impact of the Iowa caucuses is that Rubio is once again leading in the establishment lane. But keeping that lead will be more difficult here than it was in Iowa.


In New Hampshire Rubio has had to quickly assemble a ground game, or hope to coast off his momentum. This will go against other similar candidates who have methodically built their campaigns town by town, even if they don’t have buzz from Iowa.

The following rankings are based on recent polling, fundraising, a campaign’s on-the-ground organization and other Globe reporting.

Read the Democratic rankings.

1. Donald Trump, businessman

Before Iowa, Trump had a huge New Hampshire lead that could cushion any loss in the caucuses. He is still the front-runner in the Granite State, but the question is by how much -- and if his Granite State organization can deliver.

Previously: 1st (December), 2nd (July) and 5th (April).

2. Ted Cruz, US senator

It’s easy to see how Cruz could benefit the most in New Hampshire after his win in Iowa. One reason: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Rand Paul have left the race, and Ben Carson is essentially skipping New Hampshire, so Cruz can just add their support from evangelicals to his vote total. Cruz tops Rubio on this list because the Floridian doesn’t have the same advantage with Christie, Bush and Kasich in the race.


Previously: 2nd (December), 9th (July) and 4th (April)

3. Marco Rubio, US senator

Rubio has been either in second place in New Hampshire polls or tied for second with a lot of people for the past two months. His close third place win in Iowa places him in a solid third place in New Hampshire. But Rubio still has one big problem: Which early nominating state can he win outright? As a result, Rubio go all in for New Hampshire, or pivot to South Carolina.

Previously: 4th (December), 6th (July) and 7th (April).

4. John Kasich, Ohio governor

Kasich ranks fourth largely because of the state’s large and unpredictable population of independent voters, who can pick either party’s ballot on Feb. 9. These voters could see the exciting Democratic finish in Iowa and want to play in that contest, or they could be turned off by Sanders’ large lead here in polls. It may be that Hillary Clinton determines whether John Kasich does well in New Hampshire. If she makes the Democratic contest in the state more competitive in the coming days, then independent voters may find Kasich less interesting.

Previously: 9th (December), 8th (July), and a long-shot (April)

5. Jeb Bush, former Florida governor

It is unclear how Bush can blunt Rubio’s momentum or even put together a winning coalition for himself in New Hampshire. It is possible that Bush falls further in the field, although he has had a bit of a boomlet this past month in New Hampshire.

Previously: 7th (December), 1st (July) and 1st (April)

6. Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey

He had his moment to compete, but he has since slipped, and it is unclear how he gets back in the game. Late deciders are going Rubio’s way in his lane. Christie does have an impressive organization though.


Previously: 3rd (December), 7th (July) and 4th (April)

7. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon

He put out a statement on Iowa caucus night saying he was going home to do laundry. As a result his people here (what few supporters he had) are left hanging high and dry.

Previously: 6th (December), 10th (July), not on the list in April

8. Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO

She campaigned in New Hampshire wants its candidates to campaign: Town hall meetings, talking to voters one-on-one. But she will get lost in the clutter of the week.

Previously: 8th (December), 5th (July) and 9th (April)

9. Jim Gilmore, former Virginia governor

Doesn’t have the resources or name recognition to compete, but at least he tried.

Previously: 12th (December), long shot in April and July.

10. Rick Santorum, former US senator

Doesn’t have the resources or name recognition to compete in New Hampshire, and he never tried.

Previously: 13th (December), long shot in July, not on the list in April

Dropped out since last ranking

Rick Santorum, former US senator (13th in December, long shot in July, not on the list in April)

Rand Paul, US senator (6th on Feb. 2)

George Pataki, former New York governor (10th in December; long shot in July; 8th in April)

Lindsey Graham, US senator (11th in December; long shot in April and July)

Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor (14th in December; long shot in April and July)

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell. Click here to subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign.