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Trump wins New Hampshire primary and closes in on presidential nomination

The former Republican president has defeated Nikki Haley, but the ex U.N. ambassador is not throwing in the towel: ‘This race is far from over’

Donald Trump
Donald Trump greets supporters as he arrives at a campaign stop in Londonderry, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.Matt Rourke (AP)
Miguel Jiménez

Donald Trump has won again. His triumph in the New Hampshire primary elections was confirmed shortly after the polls closed. Trump’s win in New Hampshire over Nikki Haley follows the former president’s landslide victory last week in the Iowa caucuses. In the past half-century, every candidate who has won in Iowa and New Hampshire has gone on to win the nomination as a presidential candidate. Trump has a seemingly clear path, but his rival, Nikki Haley, is not throwing in the towel, and this cast a shadow over the former president’s New Hampshire victory.

“There are dozens of states left to go, and the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina,” Haley said — the former governor of South Carolina — in her Tuesday appearance after the primaries. “South Carolina voters don’t want a coronation. They want an election. And we’re going to give them one.”

Trump appeared angered by Haley’s perseverance when he held a press conference an hour later. “Who the hell was the impostor that went up on the stage that went before and claimed victory? She did very poorly actually,” said the former president, despite the fact that the first thing Haley did was to congratulate him as the winner.

New Hampshire is the state where Nikki Haley, Trump’s only real rival remaining on Tuesday after the withdrawal of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, had the best prospects. But if Haley was not able to win in this relatively moderate state, where she had the enthusiastic support of the governor and where independent voters had the chance to participate in the Republican primaries, she will have an even harder time in the rest of the country. The final results are still a long way off. With 91% counted, Trump has 54.8% of the vote, compared to 43.2% for Haley.

Trump’s victory was clear, but not overwhelming, like the 30-point lead he had over both DeSantis and Haley in Iowa. And it was lower than the polls predicted, which did not please Trump, who lashed out at his rival. “Ron came in second [in Iowa] and he left. She came in third and she’s still hanging around. The other thing she only got 25% of the Republican votes. I don’t know if you saw the tremendous numbers of independents came out because in this day, because you have a governor that doesn’t frankly know what the hell he’s doing in this state,” he complained.

“Let’s not have someone take a victory when she had a very bad night,” Trump insisted. “She’s doing a speech like she won. She didn’t win. She lost,” he continued, adding: “Just a little note to Nikki: She’s not going to win.”

Trump’s address was not euphoric, as it was in Iowa, but rather bad-tempered. “I don’t get too angry, I get even,” he said at one point. Haley’s campaign has dismissed his criticism, describing his speech as an “angry rant.” “If Mr Trump is in such good shape, why is he so angry?” the campaign said in a statement.

The next primary is in Nevada, where she is not registered in the caucuses, the assemblies that will elect the delegates for the Republican convention, but in the primaries, voting at the ballot box, which have been disallowed by the party in this state. This means that Trump will take all of the delegates in the state. Then comes South Carolina, Haley’s home state on February 24, but where Trump is leading the polls and has the backing of the party apparatus and the vast majority of its local leaders. Haley’s path is filled with obstacles.

If the campaign events of these days are any indication, Trump’s victory in New Hampshire was a foregone conclusion. He held his rallies in sports arenas and theaters with much greater capacity than the high schools, colleges, restaurants and hotel halls Haley chose. Supporters crowded the places where Trump spoke after waiting for hours in the cold and snow.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to supporters at the Grappone Conference Center.

Support of the rank and file

On Tuesday, the presence of Trump supporters was also more noticeable at the polling places. Michael Guglielmo, 61, stood outside a polling station in Concord, the state capital, and said that “he’s the only legitimate candidate out there that represents the people.” “He says what he does, he does what he says. He’s not a lie. He filled his promises. We had peace through strength. We had no wars. We had a great economy, employment rate for Black people, Hispanic people, business areas. He was a businessman. And, you know, maybe he didn’t have the best decorum, but his policies were on point. So I prefer the mean tweets and the good policies,” said Guglielmo, a carpenter.

Nearby, near the seat of the state legislature, a plaque reminds us of the importance New Hampshire citizens attach to primaries. Since 1920 they have been held there before anywhere else. The tourist sign states that the voters of New Hampshire have usually favored the candidate who ultimately reaches the Oval Office.

Trump is the charismatic leader around whom these primaries have revolved and his presence is on track to define the November 5 presidential election against incumbent Joe Biden, a rerun of the 2020 presidential election. Most of his supporters, such as Dylan Quatrucci, a 26-year-old student, argue that the 2020 election was rigged and that Trump’s indictments are election interference for this year’s contest: “They are continuing to attack our democracy while they’re pretending to defend democracy. Which is kind of ridiculous.”

Quatrucci says there are a “lot of reasons” why he supports Trump. “I would say the biggest reason for free speech, I would say free speech is under attack in America today... He’s going to rebuild the greatest economy of all time. He’s going to keep us safe, safe domestically and internationally, by building our border wall. And he’s going to stop all of the drugs coming in from the southern border, because that’s a big problem for people in New Hampshire. Many people know someone who’s passed away from the drug epidemic here.”

He is contradicted by a 57-year-old woman who prefers not to give her name and who supports Nikki Haley. “I think it’s time for a change. I like Trump, but Trump and Biden are too old and I think Nikki Haley has a better chance of winning the general election in November. we need a new generation. I also think it is time to have a woman as president,” she adds.

The electability thesis is one that Haley has driven the most, the idea that the chaos and scandals that surround Trump will scare away moderate and independent voters and lead to a Republican defeat in the November election, as seen by the poor election results of 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Exit polls on Tuesday showed that Trump has overwhelming support among registered Republican voters, while Haley only has traction with independent voters. This may support the thesis that at the moment of truth — the November 5 election against Biden — voters may turn their backs on Trump. But while a little more than a year ago, after the November 2022 midterm elections, there was the impression that Trump could not win the presidential election, now recent polls place him as the favorite. That partly explains why the primaries have been so clearly in his favor, and why alternatives such as DeSantis have fallen by the wayside.

On Tuesday, there were also primaries among the Democrats, in which the undisputed favorite was Joe Biden. The vote was somewhat complicated by the fact that Biden was not on the ballot because of a dispute within the Democratic Party. Those who wanted to vote for him had to write his name by hand, and that is not read by the machines. Despite this, Biden clearly won over Congressman Dean Phillips and self-help book writer Marianne Williamson, the two most relevant rivals. The president won about two-thirds of the vote, compared to approximately 20% for Phillips and less than 5% for Williamson.

“I’m here to show my support for Joe Biden and encourage my friends and neighbors to vote for him,” says Colin Van Ostern, a 44-year-old technology executive and prominent Democratic activist. “He’s not on the ballot because there’s a political dispute within the party, but I’m not going to let the party bureaucrats decide who I vote for, whether I’m going to vote for him or not. Joe Biden is the only person who has beaten Donald Trump, and he will do it again. He also stands for things that are very important to me like an economy that works for everybody, not just those at the top, and basic rights like abortion rights, which are really under attack in this country right now.”

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