Could a misstep in tonight’s high-pressure State of the Union speech flip 1,500 Granite State votes from President Joe Biden to Donald Trump?

If it does, Trump could become the first Republican presidential candidate to carry New Hampshire since George W. Bush in 2000. Those are the stakes for the 81-year-old incumbent.

Why 1,500 votes? In 2016, Trump lost New Hampshire’s four Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton by 2,736 votes. Flip 1,500 and Trump wins.

Biden’s margin was far bigger in 2020 when he beat Trump by 59,277 votes. But that year featured record-setting turnout and a very different Joe Biden. How different? During the 2020 general election, Biden led Trump in the RealClearPolitics polling average for the entire year. Trump never got within four points of his Democratic challenger on his way to defeat.

The last time Biden led Trump in the 2024 RCP polling average was 194 days ago.

Then again, it’s hard to outpace anyone when your job approval rating is just 38 percent, the worst for any modern president at this point in his term. And, as Gallup reports, Biden’s 38 percent is “one point shy of his all-time low and well below the 50 percent threshold that has typically led to reelection for incumbents.”

As Trump demonstrated in 2016, winning the White House isn’t the same as getting the most votes, it’s true. However, even on that front, Biden is behind the electoral eight ball. He’s losing all seven of the swing states almost certain to pick the next president. (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.)

New Hampshire isn’t usually on that list, and there’s been no public polling in the state since the First in the Nation primary in January. Is it possible a blown Biden performance tonight could put the Granite State in play?

“A picture is worth a thousand words, and the pictures on TV Thursday night aren’t likely to help the president,” said GOP strategist Dave Carney. “Biden’s feeble talking and walking enhance the negativity voters feel about his feeble policy outcomes.”

Republican consultant and Nashua native Matthew Bartlett says tonight’s speech “is the biggest of Joe Biden’s presidency — and his life.”

“The president needs to demonstrate that he has the mental capacity and vigor for the job and reelection campaign. He also needs to thread the needle and placate the left wing while also reaching out to voters on where it matters most,” Bartlett said. “And Biden will need to message and perform at the top of his game and rebuild his winning 2020 coalition.”

“None of this is easy for any president, much less one in his 80s with political and policy headaches at home and abroad.”

GOP communications professional and Union-Leader columnist Pat Hynes agrees.

“It’s a total high-wire act. The guy is a train wreck and the Dems are hyping the speech already. If he trips and falls, or loses his train of thought, it will validate what his own Justice Department said about him: He’s a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

But a Granite State Democrat insider speaking to NHJournal on background dismissed the polls and the pundits.

This Democrat noted 2022 polling showed a GOP red wave was on its way, and instead Biden had one of the best first-term midterm elections of any modern president.

“Think Truman in 1948, or George W. Bush in 2004, or Barack Obama in 2012,” the Democrat said, “and forget the polls.”

As for the State of the Union, Biden’s winning the expectations game — with help from the press.

“The expectations the media have set are so low that when President Biden knocks it out of park like he did last year, everyone will be dazzled.”

Perhaps. But as New York Times’ poll guru Nate Cohn pointed out, this isn’t the same Biden as 2020.

“Mr. Biden is very unpopular. He’s so unpopular that he’s now even less popular than Mr. Trump, who remains every bit as unpopular as he was four years ago,” Cohn wrote. Meanwhile, “Donald Trump has the largest national lead in a New York Times poll since first running for president in 2015.”

Still, says Carney, “this will be a long race and no one should be chilling the champagne. But it’s clear the Biden presidency is going down in flames on the policy front, and the traditional Democratic base is in tatters. One speech won’t change that.”

And, Bartlett said, Biden won’t be the only person giving a speech.

There are also high stakes for U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) whose State of the Union response could be a national rollout for a vice presidential pick. Can she buck the trend and hit a home run of her own? Will a GOP star be born?”

Bah, says Hynes. The speech is all about Biden, and he’ll be under a microscope for missteps and stumbles.

What previous president does Biden remind him of?

“Joe Biden in 1988,” said Hynes. “Only older and more confused.”