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Trump wins, Haley vows to keep fighting: Five takeaways from the New Hampshire primary

Although the former president is on track to secure the GOP nomination, his only remaining rival says the race is ‘far from over’ despite the hurdles that lie ahead

Elecciones New Hampshire
Republican primary candidate Nikki Haley with her daughter Rena and her son Nalin on Tuesday in Concord.BRIAN SNYDER (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

Donald Trump has achieved a clear victory, but he has not made a clean sweep. The former U.S. president defeated the former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday. The victory puts Trump’s nomination back on track for the November presidential election, but his win was not significant enough to entirely knock out Haley, who is reluctant to quit the race. Turnout was very high in the Republican primary, though not so much in the Democratic primary, which President Joe Biden won despite not being on the ballot.

1. Trump wins, but does not sweep the state

The former president won the Iowa caucuses by more than 30 points over both Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. His victory in the New Hampshire primary, where he only faced Haley, was much narrower, despite the fact that both Vivek Ramaswamy and DeSantis had endorsed him. Trump won but failed to knock out his rival. Still, every candidate who has won Iowa and New Hampshire consecutively in the last half century has won the nomination. “When you win Iowa and you win New Hampshire, they’ve never had a loss — there’s never been — so we’re not going to be the first, I can tell you,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Trump, furthermore, has swept among his party base, which makes his presidential nomination almost certain, although it might take a little longer to confirm than he would have liked. The former president was angry at having to keep competing. “This is not your typical victory speech, but let’s not let somebody take a victory when she had a very bad night,” Trump insisted. “She didn’t win. She lost.“

2. Nikki Haley holds on and goes on the attack

The former ambassador to the United Nations has vowed to keep up the fight. “New Hampshire is first-in-the-nation, it is not last-in-the-nation. This race is far from over, there are dozens of states left to go, and the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina,” she said on Tuesday at her election night rally in Concord, the state capital. “South Carolina voters don’t want a coronation, they want an election. And we are going to give them one because we are just getting started.”

New Hampshire is where Nikki Haley had the best prospects. If she was unable to win in this relatively moderate state, where she had the enthusiastic support of Governor Chris Sununu and where independent voters had the possibility of participating in the Republican primaries, it will be much more difficult for her to win primaries in the rest of the country. Even so, she took advantage of her speech to attack Trump.

3. The role of independents

The New Hampshire primary is special because voters who are not registered as either Republicans or Democrats can choose to vote in either party’s primary. It also happens in some other states, but not in the majority. The exit polls for the Tuesday primary show an absolute contrast between the support that Trump received from voters registered as Republicans and from independents, who supported Haley. Trump did especially well in the most conservative parts of the state, while Haley won in the most progressive areas. Haley only led Trump in Democratic-leaning cities and towns like Concord, Keene and Portsmouth. The high participation of independents allowed Haley to obtain a slightly better result than the polls had predicted. Trump’s weakness among moderates and centrists is a concern for his campaign, with its sights set on the November presidential elections.

4. Biden wins easily

On Tuesday New Hampshire also held a Democratic primary, although this vote had a lower media profile. President Joe Biden won without trouble despite the fact that he did not participate in a single campaign event and did not even appear on the ballot due to a struggle by the Democratic Party to have the New Hampshire vote delayed in the primaries calendar. Citizens could still vote for him by writing his name in the blank box reserved for this option. In 2020, Biden achieved the Democratic nomination despite placing fifth in New Hampshire with only 8.4% of the vote. This time, with the advantage of being the incumbent in the White House and no major rivals, he won decisively, although the scrutiny has been delayed due to the manual processing of the ballots. Everything points, therefore, to a repeat of the 2020 elections: Biden against Trump.

5. The road ahead

In recent days, Donald Trump predicted Nikki Haley would quit the race after the New Hampshire primary, but the candidate refuses to throw in the towel. What lies ahead is not easy for her, however. She didn’t register for the Nevada caucuses, so Trump will take all the delegates there on February 8. After Nevada, on February 24 there will be a primary in South Carolina, Haley’s home state, but Trump has solid support there and he is the clear favorite in voting intention. How the polls evolve and the outcome of the voting will depend on whether the race towards the nomination remains open on March 5, Super Tuesday, when 16 states will vote, including California and Texas, awarding more than a third of the delegates who will choose the candidate at the Republican convention in July.

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