In case anyone still needed convincing that Donald Trump will be the 2024 Republican Party’s nominee for president after last week’s impressive showing and victory for the former president in the conservative-heavy state of Iowa, the results from last night’s first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary should do the trick.
Trump made it two in a row to start off the real voting, with conservatives in The Granite State making Trump’s frontrunner status more than official by awarding him his third consecutive win in the first-in-the-nation primary. The former president and de facto incumbent held off a late challenge by establishment candidate Nikki Haley, whose second-place result in the now two-person-race will certainly be talked up as ground-breaking by all the establishment media outlets searching for a storyline that doesn’t involve Trump being the “sure thing” that he looks to be.
It didn’t take long for the caution flags to show themselves. In an article titled “Trump defeats Haley in New Hampshire to sweep first two nominating contests”, Susan Ferrechio and Seth McLaughlin reported at The Washington Times:
“Former President Donald Trump clinched a second win in the Republican primary, defeating his sole remaining opponent, Nikki Haley, in New Hampshire on Tuesday as she made plans to keep battling for the nomination until at least March.
“It was the second time this month that Mr. Trump won a majority in the party’s presidential nomination contest. With 60% of the vote counted after 10 p.m., the former president had 53.4% of the vote to Ms. Haley’s 44.9%. In the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, Mr. Trump secured his victory with 52% of the vote...
“Mr. Trump, in a bid to send the message that the party should unite around him as the presidential nominee, brought to the stage in New Hampshire a lineup of past Republican primary opponents who have endorsed him: biotechnology tycoon Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Mr. Trump also received the endorsement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. With single-digit poll numbers in New Hampshire, he announced his exit from the race from Tallahassee on Sunday.”
The actual numbers, with 91.5 percent of precincts reporting, showed Trump with 54.5 percent to Haley’s 43.2 percent. Ron DeSantis got less than one percent of the total, but he did get over 2000 votes! That’s not chump change, is it?
It’s not as though Tuesday evening was completely devoid of drama, the obviously bored Fox News hosts debating endlessly about whether Haley should recognize the writing on the proverbial wall and drop out of the race as Ron DeSantis did a few days prior.
Poor Jesse Waters even speculated a few times on Trump’s final margin of victory, as though if it were a couple points bigger or smaller it would make all the difference in Haley’s final deliberation on her political fate. Haley “conceded” defeat and congratulated the former president relatively early in the evening, not too long after 8 o’clock, early enough, I suppose to get in her blubbering before folks headed off to bed.
Practically all evening, the media back-and-forth centered on the notion of independent voters and (some) Democrats in New Hampshire voting in the state primary and how much or how little they’d help/hurt Haley in her quest for relevancy. The primary loser herself admitted that she’d devoted an insane amount of time to traveling the state, as though that in itself qualifies her to lead the free world. And, her coffers filled with “last chance to beat Trump” money, Nikki coughed up something like $30 million for media ads.
Question: Are Republicans bent on allowing independent voters – and Democrats – in a purple/blue state to determine who runs for president? Are we nuts? Sure, Trump will need independents in the general election, and they may be tilting towards Biden at present, but is this determinative of the outcome NOW, a full nine and a half months before the election?
Can’t you just hear it now? “Gee, it’s down to a two-person race and Trump only beat Nikki Haley in New Hampshire by a little over 10 points. Maybe we should reconsider who we’re supporting and get behind Nikki Haley instead, because non-Republicans way up north liked her.”
It’s not as though Biden himself doesn’t have serious campaign drags. Fox showed footage from a senile Joe/cackling Kamala Harris rally earlier in the day when the Democrat duo could only squeeze in plugs for more abortion between being interrupted 14 times by “From the River to the Sea” asinine pro-Palestinian protesters in Manassas, Virginia, just a short bus ride from The White House.
Don’t you think this is going to happen everywhere? Better get used to it, Joe n’ Kamala!
All in all, Tuesday night was eminently predictable. For weeks it seems, or maybe even months, establishment media analysts have taken every little tidbit of poll movement in New Hampshire as a signal that Donald Trump’s stranglehold on the GOP presidential nomination was weakening or evaporating. Couple this with the fact Nikki Haley emerged in late fall as the clear party establishment choice and swamp protectors practically soiled themselves dreaming up scenarios where Trump’s second reelection campaign would be stopped in its tracks. Or at least slowed. To the elites, that’s like the same thing.
Meanwhile, TV news reports showed various candidates – mostly Chris Christie – making the rounds in The Granite State, speaking to receptive audiences who looked worlds apart from the ones in Iowa, but asked many of the same questions to the hopefuls. Why? Because Republicans and conservatives in both locales are worried about the same types of issues, namely illegal immigration (and its evil offshoot, fentanyl importation), the economy, inflation, energy exploration, abortion (in some cases) and the role of the federal government in controlling daily lives.
What New Hampshirites didn’t appear to care about all that much was January 6, 2021 and the raucous riot that spurned numerous criminal witch hunts involving former president Trump. Nor did they pay much heed to some of the establishment’s pet issues, such as continuing to fund the war in Ukraine. President senile Joe Biden has made such an unqualified mess of both domestic and foreign policy, so the choice has been somewhat of a no-brainer for quite a while now.
By the looks of it, recently exited-from-the-race Florida governor Ron DeSantis still got some votes (absentee ballots? Who knows?) came in a distant third, which everyone anticipated even before he left the contest, so there’s not much surprise there. DeSantis campaigned in New Hampshire, so it’s not like he didn’t try to gain a foothold there, but his running “lane” was already occupied by Trump. There simply wasn’t room for two America First-type competitors in a place where the residents pride themselves on being able to personally meet and talk with at least a couple of the candidates from both parties.
Of course, as was also true in Iowa, Donald Trump didn’t spend a great deal of time and energy pressing the flesh in New Hampshire, but no one expected him to. Trump enjoys the luxury of being able to make promises and talk about issues as though he’s already been there – which he has. Chris Christie spent months making the rounds in state imploring audiences to refuse to send Trump back for another term.
They didn’t listen. And the vote totals don’t reinforce the theory that Christie’s voters would automatically float to Haley once he removed his considerable hulk from the official race. Chris’s controversial “hot mic” comments about Nikki Haley probably scared some of them off, since even the rotund one, in his personal capacity, didn’t think Haley was up to the job.
The question now is whether Haley’s by-her-lonesome runner up finish in New Hampshire will do much for her, or simply serve to further expose the airy lack of substance in her candidacy. I didn’t see any polling on the particular issue, but how much of Nikki’s support came from voters who favored her simply because she was a woman?
Much was also made about the fact that independent voters (and even some Democrats) could cast ballots in the Republican race and pre-Primary Day surveys showed they weren’t heading for Trump’s column. It’s safe to infer that Trump received well over a majority of the favor from actual Republicans, and he did so despite longtime governor Chris Sununu having endorsed Haley and actually campaigned against Trump in New Hampshire.
With friends like Sununu, who needs enemies?
Therefore, Haley’s second place result should come with a huge asterisk next to it, since she’s yet to finish anywhere near to Trump in a state where the primary franchise is limited to Republicans alone. Assuming she stays in the horserace, this scenario will most likely be repeated in Nikki’s home state of South Carolina next month, where the more conservative electorate will crave an opportunity to show her how she stacks up against the much more ideologically trustworthy former president.
Adding to Trump’s South Carolina momentum, Senator Tim Scott endorsed him over the weekend, too. In essence, Trump received endorsements from two of his main rivals in the past few days, a far cry from the free-for-all Trump-bashing scrum in the GOP primary debates, isn’t it?
In the leadup to the voting on Tuesday, and also during the hours the pundits spent in discussing the New Hampshire non-results, there was speculation on whether Trump would get over fifty percent of the total votes and therefore match or exceed his tally in Iowa. When DeSantis bowed out unexpectedly on Sunday, however, Trump’s beating the 50-mark almost became a foregone conclusion.
Yet the chattering class made a big deal that Trump didn’t win by more.
What difference does the margin make, anyway? A second place finish is still a second place finish. Remember how, in 2016, Jeb Bush was said to have received a new breath of life because he managed to eek out a fourth-place placement in New Hampshire? Recall how George W. Bush’s little brother crowed and pontificated over finishing behind Trump (whose winning margin more than doubled second-place finisher John Kasich), Kasich and Ted Cruz.
The pre-primary race favorite and top establishment fundraiser Jeb(!) excited no one and he went on to be embarrassed a few weeks later when then-governor Nikki Haley endorsed Marco Rubio (who finished fifth in New Hampshire) at a time when many observers, myself included, thought the race was narrowing to a two-man contest between Trump and Cruz, who’d won the first two states.
Now Haley will be besieged by queries as to her plans to leave the Republican race.
Trump, for his part, was somewhat less than gracious in his victory speech, labeling her “an imposter” and mocking her own address earlier in the evening. Chances are that New Hampshire won’t have settled much, at least for the near term. Trump will continue to roll up the victories and the establishment media will drool over how much independents hate Trump.
Thus sums up campaign 2024 in a nutshell.
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