NH Ballot Order Could Hurt Romney, Santorum
But it won't be enough to knock Mitt from the top: Washington Post
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2012 7:03 AM CST
A ballot for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary is posted at the Town Hall, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 in Alton, NH.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

(Newser) – Mitt Romney has stayed at the top of the New Hampshire polls, but he's sunk when it comes to the state's ballot. On the 30-candidate list, Romney's name is third from the bottom, a position that could hurt him in today's primary. Research shows that ballot order can have a big impact, especially with undecided voters, the Washington Post reports. According to one estimate from 2008, Hillary Clinton—who won the New Hampshire primary by about 3 percentage points—gained at least those 3 points because her name was near the top of the ballot, while Barack Obama's was near the bottom.

That's because undecided voters who read down a list of names have a greater chance of picking a name that appears higher up the list. It's called "confirmatory choice," and it could really hurt Rick Santorum, whose name appears at the very bottom of today's ballot. Unfortunately for him, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain—who appear near the top—may steal some votes from him despite the fact that they've suspended their campaigns. Who could walk away with a few of Romney's potential votes? Perhaps Newt Gingrich or Jon Huntsman, who are both listed higher than Romney. (Quirky fact: The NH ballot lists names in alphabetical order, but starts at a random spot; the 2012 GOP primary ballot begins with Joe Story and runs through Santorum.)
 

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