Stubborn state of New Hampshire determines the fate of Nikki Haley

Haley on the campaign trail in New Hampshire

NOS News

  • Rudy Bouma

    correspondent VS

  • Rudy Bouma

    correspondent VS

It’s make or break for Nikki Haley in the Republican primaries today in the American state of New Hampshire. If she manages to defeat Donald Trump, or follow in his wake, she will remain in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate. If she lags far behind, Trump will no longer have a single serious opponent left within the Republican Party.

Haley was hot on Trump’s heels, but he has now trailed, in one poll 16 percent lead. The elimination of Trump’s other rival Ron DeSantis has not yet been taken into account. The governor of Florida threw the towel in the ring.

The ultra-conservative DeSantis had visited all 99 counties in Iowa and spent tens of millions of dollars on spots in the conservative state. Although he took second place, he only received 21 percent of the votes, much less than Trump’s 51 percent. DeSantis now supports Trump, which means that the ex-president can now also count on votes in New Hampshire from his former opponent’s supporters.

New Hampshire is the defining state for Haley. She has already focused her efforts on the so-called Granite State. About 40 percent of the residents there are registered as independent voters. They may also participate in the Republican primaries. It appears that most of this group leans towards Haley polls. But among registered Republicans, Trump is by far the most popular.

“Nikki Haley faces a difficult task,” said Dante Scala, a political scientist at the University of New Hampshire. “She must forge an unusual coalition between independents, moderate Republicans and Democratic doubters. Trump just needs to mobilize the Republican base.”

Even if Haley does well in moderate New Hampshire, her chances are slim in conservative states, Scala thinks. “She has not been able to build a bridge to other parts of the party.”

The paradox is that Republicans are probably shooting themselves in the foot with their preference for Trump, voter surveys show. In the presidential elections in November, Haley has a better chance of beating Joe Biden than Trump, because she is able to win over more undecided voters from the middle.

Indian roots

Trump is using Haley’s popularity among moderate voters against her, by suggesting that she is actually more of a Democrat. He posted a photo on social media in which Haley’s face blends into that of Hillary Clinton, who is hated among Republicans.

The former president also cites Haley’s Indian heritage, emphasizing her original first name. Haley’s first name is actually Nimrata.

Trump also did this to Barack Obama, by using his middle name Hussein. At the time, Trump also – wrongly – raised doubts about whether Obama was born in America. Now he’s questioning the legitimacy of Haley’s candidacy because her parents are from India. However, the Constitution only requires that a presidential candidate be born in the US.

Haley hit back at Trumps mental condition to question. Trump recently misspoke several times by confusing Haley in a speech with Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. For example, Trump incorrectly stated that Haley was responsible for the security of the Capitol during the storming on January 6, 2021.

Haley has repeatedly said she will remain in the race at least until the primaries in her home state of South Carolina on February 24.

At the beginning of February, the Supreme Court will hear a controversial decision from the state of Colorado. The highest judges there have banned Trump from the ballot because, in their opinion, he is guilty of rebellion after the 2020 elections. This concerns the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters. If the federal Supreme Court in Washington agrees, Trump will no longer be allowed on the ballot and Republicans will still need another presidential candidate.

However, the largely conservative Supreme Court is expected to reject Colorado’s decision. Other states previously concluded that the provision in the Constitution does not apply to the president.

Joe Biden is not on the ballot in New Hampshire, because the Democrats are not holding primaries there today. This time they give the scoop to South Carolina, the state that helped Biden win in 2020.

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