New Hampshire Primary Could Spell Trouble For Trump
The 2024 Republican Presidential nomination race is still a few years away, but former President Donald Trump is dominating the early polls. However, recent data and history suggest that Trump may face more competition than expected in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.
According to a recent poll conducted by CNN and the University of New Hampshire, Trump leads the field with 39% of the vote. However, this is significantly lower than his national standing, where he consistently polls over 60% in the GOP primary. Additionally, when taking into account voters' second choices, Trump does not even reach 50% support in New Hampshire.
This presents a unique opportunity for other Republican candidates. While no individual candidate stands a chance against Trump alone, the 60% of voters who do not currently support him are actively searching for an alternative. This was seen in the 2016 Iowa caucuses, where Trump's main competitors, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, were polling in the single digits at this point in the race.
The fact that Trump's support in New Hampshire remains flat is also significant. This shows that while his voters are firmly committed, he is not gaining new support. In contrast, only 18% of voters who support other candidates say they have definitely decided on their choice.
This could be attributed to the fact that the majority of Trump's supporters (69%) selected him as their top choice, while the rest are divided among other candidates. This means that if a viable alternative to Trump were to emerge, they could potentially rally the majority of the anti-Trump vote.
One candidate who has seen a recent decline in support is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He had initially led the field with 42% in January's UNH poll, but has since dropped to 10%. However, three other candidates have now made their first appearance in the double digits: businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
In addition to the crowded field, New Hampshire's unique primary process could also play a role in potentially dethroning Trump. The state's more moderate electorate and the fact that independents can vote in the Republican primary make it a different playing field than other early-voting states. In fact, the winner of the Iowa GOP caucuses has never won the New Hampshire GOP primary in modern times.
The most recent example of this was in 2000, when George W. Bush held a significant lead in the UNH polls but ultimately lost to John McCain in New Hampshire. McCain was able to win with the support of moderate and independent voters, a group that Trump has historically struggled with.
Of course, even if an upset were to occur in New Hampshire, it does not necessarily guarantee a path to the nomination. As seen in 2000, Bush was able to recover and eventually secure the nomination.
Ultimately, while Trump may be the heavy favorite currently, his support is not impenetrable in New Hampshire. With a crowded field and a unique primary process, a viable alternative could potentially emerge and challenge his frontrunner status.