Friday, January 19, 2024

Can Nikki Haley win New Hampshire?


The Iowa caucuses are in the books and we are on the way to New Hampshire. Nikki Haley, fresh from a disappointing but not fatal third-place finish in Iowa, is pinning her hopes on the Granite State. Polling indicates that she has a chance. Can she pull it off? Does it really matter if she does?

It seems longer now, but it was barely more than a week ago that Chris Christie dropped out of the Republican primary. Since then, Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson have both ended their campaigns as well. 

RACKET NEWS photo of New Hampshire campaign mailers by Jay Berman


A week ago, the conventional wisdom was that Haley would be the primary beneficiary of Christie’s departure. This prediction was based on a smattering of second-choice polls, and it seems to have been borne out by two new polls of New Hampshire voters.

Over the past week, Suffolk/Boston Globe and St. Anselm College have both released post-Christie and post-Iowa polls. The two polls are very close in their results with the Boston Globe showing Trump leading Haley by 52-38 percent and St. Anselm by 50-36. Both polls show DeSantis at six points. 

Yes, Nikki Haley has increased her polling share, but the rub is that Trump has done so as well. As the St. Anselm summary explains, Haley won the support of 60 percent of voters who changed their votes based on candidates ending their campaigns, but Trump won 51 percent of those who changed their votes based on the Iowa caucus results. The net result is that both candidates gained about seven points so, although Haley picked up support, she has not closed the gap with Trump. 

Some interesting details from the Globe poll are that Haley voters are almost evenly split between whether their vote is a vote for Haley (45 percent) or against Donald Trump (48.3 percent). Ron DeSantis is still the top second-choice pick at 36 percent, while Haley (9.4 percent) and Trump (8.5 percent) are the least favorite second-choice options. The two frontrunners rank below “undecided” (21.1 percent) and “someone else” (14.9 percent) as a second choice.

There is hope for Haley even though 67 percent of voters in the Globe poll say they are “not at all likely” to change their vote at this point. That leaves about 13 percent who are likely to change their minds and in this game of inches, these voters could change the state of the race if they break for Haley. 

Haley has enjoyed a long, slow climb in the polls since last summer while Trump has stayed relatively stable. He is currently enjoying a bump after Iowa, but if that bump proves temporary, Haley could quickly close the gap and make the race a tossup. 

Based on what I’m seeing in the polls now, I predict another Trump victory in New Hampshire, but what if Haley can pull off an upset? I’m going to be blunt: Even if Haley survives New Hampshire, it doesn’t look good.

Haley is polling above average in New Hampshire while Trump is below average in the state. The Real Clear Politics national average has Trump at 62 percent and Haley at 11.8 percent, just ahead of DeSantis at 10.3. 

By definition, if Haley is above average in New Hampshire then she must be below average in other places. The converse is also true. This means that Trump is going to be polling better in other states than he is in New Hampshire. That’s how averages work. 

So, let’s look ahead at the Republican primary schedule, and examine how the polls look in the next few states. (Keep in mind that the Democratic primary schedule is different in some states.) The events are primaries unless otherwise noted and the number of delegates is in parentheses. 

February 8

Nevada caucus (26) - There is only one recent poll. This Emerson poll has Trump at 73 percent in the party caucus. Haley opted not to caucus and instead entered the state’s primary while Trump and most other candidates are caucusing rather that competing in the primary. It’s a confusing situation, as CBS News explains, but Haley will not be eligible for delegates in Nevada. 

Virgin Islands (4) - no polling

February 24

South Carolina (50) - There is only one recent poll in Nikki Haley’s home state. Trump leads there by 54-25 with DeSantis at seven percent. 

February 27

Michigan (16) - Trump leads Haley 53-19 with DeSantis at nine. (Michigan also has a caucus on March 2.)

March 2

Idaho caucus (32) - no polling

Missouri caucus (54) - No polls since November when Trump led DeSantis 65-14.

March 3

District of Columbia (19) - no polling

March 4

North Dakota (29) - no polling

March 5 (Super Tuesday)

Alabama (50) - No polling since November when Trump led by 50

Alaska (29) - no polling

Arkansas (40) - No polling since September when Trump led by 29.

California (169) - An early January poll had Trump over Haley 66-11 with DeSantis at eight. 

Colorado (37) - no polling

Maine (20) - Trump led DeSantis by 26 points last spring. 

Massachusetts (40) - No polls since November when Trump led Haley 55-18.

Minnesota (39) - No polls since November when Trump led DeSantis 60-17.

North Carolina (74) - A January poll showed Trump leading Haley 66-12.

Oklahoma (43) - No polling since November when Trump led DeSantis 69-12.

Tennessee (58) - December polling showed Trump with 70 percent

Texas (161) - Trump led DeSantis 65-12 in December. 

Utah caucus (40) - An October poll showed Trump with 30 percent and Desantis and Haley in a statistical tie at 14 and 13. This is about as good as it gets for Haley after New Hampshire. 

Vermont (17) - January polling showed Trump over Haley 47-19.

Virginia (48) - No polling since November when Trump was up by 49 points

American Samoa (9) - no polling

I could go on, but I don’t think there is any point. (You can look ahead to the rest of the primary schedule here.) Over the whole country, there are wide gaps in the polling, but where there is data, Trump holds leads that are probably insurmountable.

Nikki Haley has bet the farm on New Hampshire. If she can eke out a win there, she may be able to fund more ads in upcoming states. At the same time, DeSantis’s campaign seems to be cratering. If the Florida governor drops out and Haley can woo his voters (a big if since polling indicated that Trump was the second choice of most DeSantis voters), the combination of advertising blitzes paired with a winner’s bump from the New Hampshire primary and another bump from DeSantis dropping out may be enough to make Haley competitive in the next rounds of primaries. 

Another possibility is that independents could crossover in New Hampshire’s primary to vote for Haley. John McCain won the 2000 primary this way, but he couldn’t build support in later states. McCain’s New Hampshire win became a “dead cat bounce.”

I think you can see how unlikely these scenarios are. It would require a perfect storm of political timing and even then it might not be enough to overcome Trump’s lead. 

A more likely scenario is that DeSantis drops out after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire and his voters help to solidify Trump’s lead. Haley fizzles in South Carolina and limps along until Super Tuesday. When Trump sweeps the Republican contests that day, she drops out and endorses Trump. 

At this point, even if Haley wins in New Hampshire, Donald Trump is almost certain to be the Republican nominee. The Former Guy built up an insurmountable lead over the past four years as Republican leaders failed to hold him accountable or offer anything more than mild criticism to his excesses and outlandish - even criminal - behavior. 

As Jeremiah Wright said, “Those chickens are coming home to roost.”

Donald Trump is now the Republican establishment. He controls the party at this point, and there is no use pretending otherwise. 

If we’ve learned anything this cycle, it’s that you can’t win a primary by ignoring your opponent’s numerous serious flaws and hoping that he goes away. Both Haley and DeSantis treated (and are treating) Trump with kid gloves, when the only way to beat him was to attack his fitness for office directly. That would have been a risky strategy in the current Republican Party, however, and the “fighter” didn’t make it any easier when he refused to debate his opponents.

When the primary is over, after the convention is done, my Republican friends will come around and tell me, “You have to vote Trump because it’s a binary choice and we have to defeat Biden.”

My answer is going to be, “It wasn’t a binary choice in January or February. You had other good candidates that I would have considered. You could have had a conservative who would champion conservative policy. You could have had a less obnoxious and dangerous candidate, but you picked Trump because you wanted him. You’ve made your bed now lie in it.”

Thank you for reading The Racket News ™. This post is public so feel free to share it.


TWITTER DROPOUT POLL: Racket News ran a short poll on the platform formerly known as Twitter to determine who our readers and followers thought would be next to drop out. The results were:

Ramaswamy - 30%

Hutchinson - 27.5%

DeSantis - 25%

Haley - 17.5%

We are sure that the results were in no way affected by the fact that the poll was still open after Ramaswamy dropped out. We give total credit to the intelligence of our readers. 

VOTE IN THE TRUMP VP POLL: Racket News is running a new poll on Twitter. Tell us who you think Trump will nominate as his running mate. We offer Elise Stefanik, Kristi Noem, and Marjorie Taylor Greene as options or you can add your own choice in the comments. 

I didn’t include Haley as an option because I don’t think she’s being seriously considered, despite recent rumors. If you disagree, vote for “someone else” and post Haley’s name in the comments. 
Vote here:

LET’S GET READY TO PODCAST: The Racketeers are planning to record a new podcast! Look for it over the weekend. Subscribe to have it sent to your inbox. 

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TRUMP WANTS “TOTAL IMMUNITY:” In a Truth Social post repeated to Twitter, The Former Guy said that “even events that ‘cross the line’ must fall under total immunity” for presidents. If Trump is elected, no one can say that they weren’t warned about what that means. If we send him back to Washington, we deserve what we get. 

This is not the work of a stable genius. This is a man who wants to be King of America.


JUSTIN AMASH RETURNS: Former Republican congressman turned Libertarian Justin Amash is forming an exploratory committee to enter the Republican Senate primary in Michigan.

HUTCHINSON BYE-KU: Continuing our series of haikus to memorialize the exit of candidates from the race, we bid sayonara to Asa Hutchinson:

Arkansas guv’nor

Rarely seen in race

Not a man from Hope

From the Racket News

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