The New Hampshire primary–the first of the primary season–is scheduled for January 23, 2004. Sometimes strange things happen in the New Hampshire primary. Remember when:
Henry Cabot Lodge beat Barry Goldwater in 1964?
Edmund Muskie beat George McGovern in 1972?
Gary Hart beat Walter Mondale in 1984?
Paul Tsongas beat Bill Clinton in 1992?
Pat Buchanan beat Bob Dole in 1996?
Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in 2016?
Joe Biden got 8% in 2020 and finished fifth behind Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Elisabeth Warren?
As we approach the 2024 New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump still leads, but former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is surging. A new CNN poll of likely Republican voters conducted by the University of New Hampshire has Haley only 7% points behind Trump. Here are the results of the poll:
- Trump: 39%
- Haley: 32%
- Christie: 12%
- Ramaswamy: 8%
- DeSantis: 5%
Two quick notes:
First, if Christie drops out of the race most of his supporters will go to Haley. She is trying to get the former New Jersey governor to quit, but he refuses to do so. Does Christie really want to stop Trump? If so, he should bail. Or perhaps this is just about Christie’s ego: I alone can stop him!
Second, DeSantis is done. He is going to finish second or third in Iowa and perhaps as low as fifth in New Hampshire. Back in 2020, as I noted above, Joe Biden finished fifth in New Hampshire as well. But he knew that South Carolina, with the help of congressman Jim Clyburn and the state’s African-American community, was coming next.
Unlike Biden in 2020, DeSantis doesn’t have any primaries after New Hampshire upon which he can bank his hopes. DeSantis is the governor of Florida, but the Sunshine State’s primary is scheduled for March 19th. That’s too late for DeSantis. Moreover, according to Five Thirty Eight projections, DeSantis is trailing Trump in Florida by a wide margin. The fact that he is the governor of Florida is not going to help him.
But back to Haley’s chances in New Hampshire.
Again, anything is possible in the Granite State. In 1984 the New Hampshire Democratic primary was held on February 28th. According to ABC polling:
On February 20, former Vice President Walter Mondale had a 17 point lead over former astronaut and Ohio senator John Glenn and a 24 point lead on Colorado Senator Gary Hart. 20% were undecided. This was the day of the Iowa caucuses, which Mondale won and Hart finished a surprising second.
On February 23, Mondale had a 17 point lead over Hart and a 25 point lead over Glenn. 18% were undecided. Glenn started fading in New Hampshire after a poor showing in Iowa.
On February 25 Mondale had a 13 point lead over Hart and 41% were undecided. The Iowa caucuses made New Hampshire Democratic primary voters start to rethink things. It was now a two-man race. Mondale and Hart fought for nearly half of the state’s electorate who had yet to make up their minds.
On February 26, Hart had a 7 point lead over Mondale and 41% were undecided.
On February 27, Hart had an 8 point lead over Mondale and 38% were undecided.
In the end, Hart pulled off the upset with 41% of the vote. Mondale came in second at 29%. Glenn had 13%. Mondale responded to the loss with: “Sometimes a cold shower is good for you.” As it turned out, it was good for him. Hart fought hard to the end, but Mondale won the Democratic nomination. He would get crushed in the general election by sitting president Ronald Reagan.
What caused Hart’s surge? Most say that his second place finish behind Mondale in Iowa on February 20th gave his ideas more exposure.
Back to Haley:
The 2024 New Hampshire primary is two weeks away. Haley is MUCH closer to Trump right now than Hart was to Mondale at this time in 1984.
So what if Haley finishes a strong second behind Trump in Iowa and uses her post-caucus speech, as Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post has suggested, to slam Trump like she has never slammed Trump before? I’m not talking Howard Dean crazy, just a really hard hit. Of course she would have A LOT to work with. Haley needs to use this speech to make this a race between two very different Republican visions. If this happens, perhaps she can peel off some Christie and DeSantis voters heading into New Hampshire.
Wishful thinking? Maybe. But it’s certainly possible.