Voters, political experts, and large donors are highly skeptical of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s chances of winning the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday.
Saddled with stagnant polling and damaging reports about her personal life in the final days leading up to the primary, Haley appears poised to place second behind Trump, a forecast that ally Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) let slip Wednesday. “We always wanted to have a strong second. That’s the only expectation we ever laid out there,” he told ABC News.
WATCH — Chuck Todd: Nikki Haley Is “Not Campaigning to Win”:
Sununu said the quiet part out loud. Suffolk polling from Thursday shows Haley trailing Trump by about 14 points, dampening the enthusiasm for Haley’s campaign among voters:
- Trump: 50 percent
- Haley: 36 percent
- DeSantis: 6 percent
Dave Carney, a New Hampshire-based Republican strategist, said the energy in the state appears solidly behind Trump. “You don’t see the frenzy, the frenetic activity,” he told Politico. “You don’t see the movements that are usually going on where you have folks crisscrossing the state, trying to get every last vote.”
Republican presidential candidate, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (L) makes a campaign stop to greet people at MaryAnn’s diner on January 21, 2024, in Derry, New Hampshire. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Many voters feel the lack of “frenetic” energy at Haley’s campaign stops. Nelia Tefft, an unaffiliated voter from Center Conway, said Haley did not answer any policy questions from the audience at a rally in Bretton Woods. Instead, Tefft said, she preferred to pose for the media.
“Then she was there forever taking pictures with people,” she told the New York Times. “I was a little disappointed. I like to see her in action, answering off the cuff and she does it well most of the time, except for the Civil War, I guess.”
WATCH — Sellers: Nikki Haley Was “Historically Inaccurate,” “Intellectually Dishonest” on Civil War:
Gaffes overshadowed Haley’s New Hampshire campaign. Haley once failed to directly answer a constituent about the cause of the Civil War. She also told PBS she would change her personality after the Iowa caucuses for New Hampshire voters. The self-inflicted wounds went viral on social media, a modern-era phenomenon that distracts voters and disrupts campaign strategy.
“I can’t believe she said it out loud,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) exclusively told Breitbart News. “That’s a neocon for you … but I’m not surprised at all that she’s got to change personalities … everything about her is fake. Her support is fake.”
Gaffes are not Haley’s biggest problem. She also has a money issue. Ken Langone, cofounder of Home Depot, said he prepared to donate to Haley’s campaign “a nice sum of money,” but Haley’s diminishing prospects in the state caused him to reconsider the “major gift” until after the primary. “If she doesn’t get traction in New Hampshire, you don’t throw money down a rat hole,” he told the Financial Times.
Political experts say Haley’s campaign failed to convince voters that Trump will not deliver a dominant performance on Tuesday after his historic victory in Iowa. “Trump commands the Republican Party,” Sean Westwood, a professor of government at Dartmouth College, told the BBC. “He certainly did dominate in Iowa relative to DeSantis and Haley, and he will do the same in New Hampshire.”
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a caucus night party in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
“If Donald Trump blows it out in Iowa and blows it out in New Hampshire, it is very difficult to see him losing any other contests moving forward,” said Matthew Bartlett, a Republican Granite State strategist. “Then the question is: do people stay in this race and why?”
“The starting line could be the finish line here,” he added.
Many Democrats acknowledge Trump’s significant lead in the state. Establishment-aligned super PACs worked in recent months to encourage Democrats and independents to change their registration before Friday to cast their vote in the Republican primary for Haley. That plan, according to experts, has a low probability of defeating Trump.
“Nikki Haley is not the person to stop Donald Trump,” Kathy Sullivan, a former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic party, told WBUR. “The only person who’s going to be able to stop Donald Trump is Joe Biden in the November election.”
Wendell Husebo is a political reporter with Breitbart News and a former GOP War Room Analyst. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality. Follow Wendell on “X” @WendellHusebø or on Truth Social @WendellHusebo.