Home » 5 things to watch for in New Hampshire’s GOP primary

5 things to watch for in New Hampshire’s GOP primary

New Hampshire voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether the Republican primary will continue or it’s all over but the crying. Voters in the “Live Free or Die” state often quip that Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents. But at the moment, polling suggests Granite State voters are very much in alignment with the choice of Hawkeye voters: Donald Trump.

The most recent high-quality polls—those by Saint Anselm College Survey Center, Suffolk University, and Monmouth University—put Trump at higher than 50%, with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the mid- to high-30s. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ended his campaign, and his single-digit support will redistribute somewhere. But without a last-minute change in sentiment, the likelihood of Haley catching Trump seems slim.

Here are five things to keep in mind on Tuesday, some of them related to the GOP primary and others related to the general election.

1. Does Haley win?

Short of a heart attack, Trump will almost surely be the Republican nominee if Haley loses the state, with its traditionally strong libertarian streak. She might be able to limp into South Carolina, her home state, but she will probably get crushed there if Trump takes New Hampshire.

2. What’s turnout like?

In Iowa, about 110,000 voters turned out to caucus, representing a roughly 40% drop-off from the 187,000 who caucused in 2016. Trump may have easily won Iowa, but he didn’t do it by finding a new pool of untapped voters and turning them out. If anything, he did it by dominating a smaller electorate filled with MAGA diehards. Some of the dip in turnout was likely due to the sub-zero temperatures and blizzard-like conditions, but it’s also possible Trump’s leadership has alienated the group of gettable voters—e.g., women and college-educated voters—for the Republican Party.

3. Who turns out?

Compared with 2016, the Iowa turnout in 2024 was older, more male, less educated, and significantly less moderate (9% in ’24 vs. 14% in ’16). It’s another sign that instead of adding voters to the Republican voting pool, Trump may be subtracting voters on the way to a far more hard-right, MAGA-aligned party.

New Hampshire’s Republican primary will undoubtedly include more independents than Iowa’s because “undeclared voters,” no matter how much they lean toward one party or the other, are allowed to vote in whichever primary they so choose. Dissecting partisan turnout and whom they favor could be telling. In 2012—the last time a Republican primary ensued without a similarly competitive Democratic primary—nearly half of the Granite State’s GOP primary voters were self-identified independents and 45% were “undeclared”—both of which represented a surge at the time.

High turnout from independents and “undeclared” voters could represent robust opposition to Trump, regardless of whether he wins the primary.

4. Who votes for Haley?

Haley’s two key demographics in New Hampshire are anti-Trumpers and independents. How much of the electorate they comprise and how many of them favor her will decide her fate. Regardless of whether Haley wins or loses, locating her supporters will be useful for Democrats. Haley voters are open season for Team Biden if Trump wins the nomination.

5. Will Trump remember who he’s running against?

Just for fun, let’s revisit this clip from a campaign rally last week where Trump confused Haley with former Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi while spreading disinformation about the Jan. 6 right at the Capitol—not once but four times!


Campaign Action

The Iowa primary took place Monday, and while traditional media outlets would like you to believe Trump won big the reality was anything but. Kerry and Markos talk about what the numbers really show and the possible ramifications for the rest of the primary season as well as the national election.


January 2024