Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primaries



The results of the first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday provided good news for the two candidates most likely to win their parties’ nominations, former President Trump and President Biden. 

Trump is poised to defeat Nikki Haley in the Granite State by about 10 points despite the former United Nations ambassador closing in on Trump’s lead in the polls for months. Biden fended off challenges from a few long-shot candidates in an unusual primary that did not technically feature him on the ballot. 

Both candidates are leaving the Granite State primaries with a fresh bout of momentum as they look toward the general election in November.

Here are winners and losers from New Hampshire’s primaries: 

WINNERS

Donald Trump

Trump went into New Hampshire with high expectations after his blowout victory in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month — and he mostly met them, all but guaranteeing his path to the nomination.

With his victory in the Granite State on Tuesday night, he is now the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in modern history. 

Trump comfortably won the primary with 55 percent of the vote to Haley’s 44 percent as of publication, though that margin could change.

The former president has already acted like a presumptive nominee throughout much of the race, skipping the GOP primary debates entirely and attacking Biden more than his Republican opponents. 

He argued on Tuesday for Haley to drop out, as well as for remaining GOP holdouts to coalesce around him, pointing to his early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. There are signs Republicans are doing just that: Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas) endorsed Trump shortly after the race was called Tuesday night.

With two victories and a significant polling lead in South Carolina, Trump kept a clear path to the nomination Tuesday night. 

Joe Biden

With the Biden campaign sitting out the New Hampshire primary and Biden’s rivals centering their efforts around the state, the president risked suffering an embarrassing loss on Tuesday.  

But the write-in campaign from Biden supporters seemed to have paid off, giving him an easy win over challengers like Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and author Marianne Williamson. A chunk of votes remains to be counted, but Biden seems likely to be the clear winner thanks to the write-in effort, with his closest challenger 50 points behind him. 

Even with some bad blood between national Democrats and the New Hampshire Democratic Party over the decision to shake up the primary calendar, Democrats in the state appeared willing to set aside their frustration to rally behind the incumbent.

That will come as a relief to Biden’s allies, as the president has been dogged by low approval ratings and polls showing many do not want him to be the Democratic nominee.

Tuesday’s result will help their argument that the party’s voters are largely behind him. And with Biden officially on the ballot starting with South Carolina on Feb. 3, that argument will only be strengthened going forward. 

Third-party candidates

With Trump and Biden’s wins in New Hampshire, the country is looking at the growing prospect of a rematch that many Americans say they do not want. 

This will likely bolster the argument for a third-party alternative as another option to two unpopular major party nominees. Several third-party candidates have already joined the race, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein. 

Polls have so far shown Biden and Trump well ahead of them, but the parties consolidating around their divisive nominees could spur more voters to throw their support behind these insurgent challengers.

And while even a strong third-party candidate would be highly unlikely to win the election, they could be potentially swing the race in one candidate’s favor as a spoiler.

LOSERS

Nikki Haley

Haley has essentially focused her strategy on three states: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But of the three, New Hampshire seemed the most likely to go for her over Trump, making it a critical gauge of her political strength in the primary.

Unfortunately for Haley, she fell short of expectations on Tuesday. 

As recently as just a few weeks ago, Haley was only down from Trump by a few points in multiple polls, but on Tuesday night she was poised to lose by double digits. 

Haley projected optimism to supporters in a speech after the result was announced, declaring that the race is “far from over.”

She was still able to point to a decent showing in the state in getting more than 40 percent of the vote, giving some solace to her donors and supporters. But she will have work to do to make up ground in South Carolina, where she trails by 30 points in The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s polling average. 

She also benefitted from New Hampshire rules allowing voters who have not declared an affiliation with a party to vote in a primary. A CNN exit poll found registered Republicans in the state backed Trump by a 3-to-1 margin, while two-thirds of undeclared voters supported Haley. 

South Carolina also does not require voters to be a registered member of a party to vote in a primary, but Haley will need to improve greatly among registered Republicans to close the gap if she is to stay in the race for the longer term. 

Ultimately, Tuesday night laid bare the challenges the former U.N. ambassador faces in trying to topple Trump.

Dean Phillips

Phillips centered his long-shot attempt to oppose Biden’s renomination on New Hampshire, having filed there first when launching his candidacy. If there was anywhere for Phillips to see the most success, the Granite State was likely to be it. 

Biden was not on the ballot because of the primary schedule controversy, and Phillips had the opportunity to repeatedly criticize him for not campaigning for the support of New Hampshire voters and emphasize his electability argument. 

But those arguments seemed to have fallen mostly flat with New Hampshire voters. Phillips barely received more than 20 percent of the vote, while the other notable longshot, Williamson, received less than 5 percent. 

Ahead of the primary, Phillips declared that reaching the 20s would be “quite extraordinary.”

But he was only able to get a fraction of Biden’s percentage even with the incumbent not on the ballot — and he is about to experience a more contested primary starting in about 10 days. 

The Biden campaign tweeted out a couple posts Tuesday night criticizing Trump following his win and the “MAGA movement” of the Republican Party. Notably, it did not even address Phillips or the Democratic primary. 

The 2024 primary season

The presidential primary season has historically been a dynamic contest between candidates fighting for the position of front-runner.

That has not been the case this year. 

Trump and Biden were their party’s likely nominees at the start of the election cycle, and they are still now. Their status is unlikely to change, barring extraordinary circumstances.

That has made a typically lively primary season unusually predictable. 

Super Tuesday, the first Tuesday in March that has more primaries than any other day, is traditionally the day in which a clear favorite for the nomination is determined. But this year it seems likely to just officially confirm an outcome that has long been expected.

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