On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump handily won New Hampshire's primary, controlling the Republican nomination race and making a November rematch with President Joe Biden probable.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley finished second despite investing time and money on an independent state. After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race over the weekend, she is the single option to Trump.
Trump's backers pressured Haley to get out before the voting ended, but she promised to continue her campaign thereafter. She called into doubt the former president's mental sanity and pitched herself as a uniting candidate who would bring about generational change to supporters.
Our race is far from done. There are dozens of states left,” Haley said, as some in the crowd shouted, “It’s not over!”
Trump, meanwhile, is the first Republican presidential candidate to win open races in Iowa and New Hampshire since 1976, demonstrating how quickly Republicans have rallied around him to make him their nominee for the third time.
Trump criticized Haley and made a rougher speech at his victory celebration Tuesday night than after his Iowa victory, when he called for Republican unity.
“Let’s not have someone take a victory when she had a very bad night,” Trump remarked. He said, “Just a little note to Nikki: She’s not going to win.”
Trump is uniting GOP divides with comfortable victory in both early states. He aims to repeat his evangelical conservative support in Iowa and New Hampshire's moderate voters in the general election.
Trump did well in conservative regions, while Haley did well in liberal areas. Haley only led Trump in Democratic-leaning Concord, Keene, and Portsmouth.
Hampton engineer Pat Sheridan, 63, voted for Trump “because he did a really good job the first time.”
“We need a businessman, not bureaucrats,” Sheridan remarked.
The AP VoteCast survey of GOP primary participants found that half were very or somewhat concerned that Trump is too extremist to win the general election. About a third say the same about Haley.
However, Haley's chances of becoming GOP standard-bearer are dwindling. She will skip the Trump-favored Feb. 8 Nevada caucuses and run in South Carolina's Feb. 24 primary.
Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, hopes to advance to Super Tuesday on March 5. In a very conservative state where Trump is popular, such aspirations may be difficult to achieve and a home-state loss might be politically disastrous.
“This is just the beginning; we’ve got the rest of the nation,” said Bow independent Sandy Adams, 66, who backed Haley. Our first time with just two candidates is excellent, and I think we have a good candidate.
Biden won the Democratic primary by write-in. The Democratic National Committee chose South Carolina for its primary next month, but New Hampshire proceeded. Biden defeated several unknown rivals without campaigning.
Trump's early Republican primary victory is astonishing given his 91 felony accusations, including trying to derail the 2020 election, misusing confidential data, and paying a porn actress. A U.S. Capitol rebellion orchestrated by his followers to derail Biden's certification cost him the White House in 2021. Trump became the first president twice impeached.
Beyond the political risks of criminal proceedings, Trump must balance trials and campaigning. He has repeatedly appeared voluntarily in a New York courthouse where a jury is contemplating whether to award more damages to a journalist who won a $5 million verdict award against Trump for sex assault and slander last year. He uses these visits as campaign events, hosting televised press conferences to reach a big audience.
Those weaknesses have helped Trump win GOP votes. He claims that the criminal cases show a politicized Justice Department, but there is no proof that Biden or anyone else in the White House urged them to pursue charges.
Trump has also constantly claimed that he is being persecuted for his followers, which appears to have bolstered his GOP base of support.
This article first appeared here.