Welcome to What's Up With Lincoln Chafee, a weekly series at Vox in which we check in on the life and times of former moderate Republican senator turned independent governor of Rhode Island turned underdog Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee.
Big news: Lincoln Chafee is no longer in last place in the New Hampshire primary. The farrier who care-iers has officially rocketed from last place to merely fifth. To be clear: He has not actually surpassed anyone in the polls. He was also in fifth when he was in last place. Instead, an even weaker candidate has joined the field: Harvard law professor and campaign finance activist Larry Lessig.
According to a survey released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, 2 percent of likely Democratic primary voters are supporting Chafee. Given the sample size of 370, that means at least 7 real people support his candidacy. Only 1 percent are supporting Lessig, who announced earlier this month that he was exploring a bid focused on fighting corruption. But despite being in a neighboring state, and playing a major role in supporting failed New Hampshire GOP Senate primary candidate and my former local chocolate shop proprietor Jim Rubens in the 2014 midterms, Lessig is in last place.
As a New Englander, Chafee has a better shot in New Hampshire than in any other early primary state. Of course, Chafee still definitely doesn't have any shot at winning; Vermonter Bernie Sanders is getting most of the proximity dividend this time around, and with the left flocking to Sanders, the establishment going to Hillary Clinton, and moderate Republicans and independents more inclined to vote in the Republican primary for John Kasich, Chafee is left with the handful of WASPy, patrician Rockefeller Republicans still left in the state. Apparently, that amounts to exactly 2 percent of the vote.
For Chafee, that's momentous news. Just last week, Conan O'Brien was bemoaning Chafee's 0 percent standing in one national poll, and brought on indie rockers Aimee Mann and Ted Leo to try to boost him all the way to 1 percent. He's not quite there nationally. While a Rasmussen poll conducted last weekend had him at 2 percent, the other three most recent national polls gave him 0, for an average of 0.5. But in New Hampshire — whose polls, unlike national ones, actually sort of matter — he's at 2 percent in the only poll in weeks. That's huge!
Chafee has a ways to go. He's still behind Sanders (42 percent), Clinton (35), Jim Webb (6), and Martin O'Malley (4). But it's been a hell of a week. Be sure to check in next week for another installment of What's Up With Lincoln Chafee.