Donald Trump’s effort to march to the Republican presidential nomination faces perhaps its greatest challenge on Tuesday when voters in New Hampshire hold the first-in-the-nation primary.
With Ron DeSantis ending his 2024 campaign and endorsing Trump on Sunday, the primary becomes the first one-on-one matchup between Trump and Nikki Haley.
The former president enters the contest embattled by his record-setting performance in last week’s Iowa caucuses. But New Hampshire has a more moderate political tradition and primary rules that allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the race. Trump-backed MAGA candidates have fought here in recent years.
Haley, the former U.N. ambassador and onetime South Carolina governor, is hoping to capitalize on those vulnerabilities, especially now that she is the only major candidate left in the GOP primary aiming to defeat Trump outright. DeSantis, even before dropping out altogether, had effectively surrendered New Hampshire to focus instead on South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary. But he did have supporters in New Hampshire who now must decide what to do.
A Haley victory would usher in a more competitive phase of a primary that Trump has so far dominated. A Trump win, however, could create a sense of inevitability that he would become the GOP nominee for the third consecutive time.
Don’t forget Democrats have a primary, too. President Joe Biden is not on the ballot, having made South Carolina the first formal stop on the Democratic primary calendar. But New Hampshire is sticking to tradition and hosting its own Democratic primary anyway.