Trump’s Victory Sets the Stage for Competitive Republican Primary in New Hampshire

Concord, New Hampshire – New Hampshire voters are poised to shape the Republican nominating contest after Donald Trump’s resounding victory in the Iowa caucuses. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis face mounting pressure to improve their standings, as they gear up for the upcoming primary in New Hampshire. Known for their independent streak, New Hampshire voters take pride in hosting the nation’s first Republican presidential primary.

Trump, DeSantis, and Haley have each scheduled stops in New Hampshire. Trump, who faced a civil defamation trial in New York, made the trip before his appearance in court. DeSantis, on the other hand, visited South Carolina before heading to New Hampshire. Haley, a former South Carolina governor, launched a statewide television ad in New Hampshire, targeting both Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden.

DeSantis dismissed Haley’s attempt to frame the campaign as a battle between her and Trump. He criticized her performance as governor and highlighted his own record, arguing that he garnered more support from Iowa conservatives. Haley, however, managed to win over one Iowa county that leans Democratic, showcasing her appeal to both moderates and conservatives looking for an alternative to Trump.

In the New Hampshire primary, only registered Republicans and voters without a party affiliation can participate, amounting to about 40% of the voting population. Democrats are not eligible to vote in the Republican primary. While Haley acknowledges Trump’s advantage as an incumbent, DeSantis seeks to downplay the former president’s dominance and portray himself as a viable alternative.

Enthusiasm for Trump was evident in Atkinson, New Hampshire, where voters braved the sleet and snow, standing in line for his rally. According to Dante Scala, a politics expert from the University of New Hampshire, DeSantis faces the challenge of reintroducing himself to voters after spending considerable time in Iowa. Haley, on the other hand, must find a way to challenge the perceived inevitability of Trump’s candidacy.

Reflecting the results of the Iowa caucuses, Haley emerged as the preferred candidate among anti-Trump Republicans and those who voted for Biden in 2020. However, the majority of her Iowa supporters did not vote for Trump in the previous election. DeSantis, on the other hand, captured the support of caucusgoers dissatisfied with Trump but voting for him in the general election.

Despite Trump’s weakness in the Iowa suburbs, where he only secured a third of the votes, he still outperformed DeSantis and Haley in those areas. New Hampshire’s Republican electorate is more akin to the suburban population in Iowa, suggesting a potential opening for DeSantis and Haley.

New Hampshire, once a solidly Republican state, has become a genuine two-party state in recent years. It has an all-Democratic congressional delegation but a Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature. Trump won the 2016 and 2020 GOP primaries in New Hampshire but lost the state in the general election both times.

As the primary in New Hampshire approaches, DeSantis and Haley find themselves facing critical moments in their campaigns. DeSantis needs to reintroduce himself to voters, while Haley must break through the perception of Trump’s inevitability. Their performances in New Hampshire will undoubtedly influence the trajectory of the Republican nominating fight.