Nikki Haley’s Clash With Trump In New Hampshire May Not Yield The Desired Results, Say Experts.

Aiexpress – Republican critics of Donald Trump have consistently argued that in order for any of his challengers to have a chance at defeating him with voters in the 2024 primary, it would be crucial to narrow the field down to a one-on-one race.

The highly anticipated race has finally arrived, and by Tuesday night, it will become evident whether it holds any significance.

In New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday, the former president, along with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, will be the main contenders after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the race. It should be noted that Trump and Haley are also running against pastor Ryan Binkley, although he hasn’t gained much traction in the polls and did not qualify for the debates.

The upcoming face-off in New Hampshire, where independent voters have the chance to join the Republican race, presents Haley with a golden opportunity to halt Trump’s campaign before it gains unstoppable momentum.

Haley believes that if she can secure a strong performance in the state, she can leverage that momentum to convince voters in other states that a Trump victory is not guaranteed, and that they have the option to choose another candidate.

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“We are heading back to South Carolina, with the aim of gaining even more strength. Our plan is to be stronger in New Hampshire and then build upon that strength in South Carolina,” Haley stated in an interview with ABC News. She further emphasized her commitment to her home state’s primary on February 24, stating, “We have diligently saved our funds for this purpose. We are all set and prepared for a significant advertising campaign in South Carolina, and we are determined to travel extensively throughout the state that holds a special place in my heart. Rest assured, we are not backing down anytime soon.”

According to ABC News, Republican strategists in New Hampshire have estimated that Nikki Haley is attracting former Christie supporters, but many backers of DeSantis and Ramaswamy are now flocking to Trump. This is because they find Trump’s policies and approach more aligned with their own. As a result, anti-Trump Republicans’ hopes of consolidating a large enough vote against him have been dampened.

According to recent polls, Haley’s chances of success in the upcoming election appear bleak. Only one major survey in 538’s database shows her within single digits of Trump, and none indicate that she is leading in the race. However, it is worth noting that she is running closer to Trump in New Hampshire compared to other parts of the country.

According to New Hampshire GOP strategist Dave Carney, President Trump is expected to secure the nomination by tomorrow night at around nine o’clock.

According to Carney, there is no other state in the country where you find such a high number of independent voters. He believes that if a candidate cannot defeat Trump in this state, it would be difficult for them to defeat him anywhere else. Carney predicts that Trump will receive over 50% of the votes, leaving no chance for any other candidate to gain ground. He emphasizes that now that it is a two-way race, there are no candidates who can attract Trump’s voters away from him. Carney concludes by confidently stating that it will be a decisive victory for Trump.

Haley’s hopes of a victory or a strong second-place finish in the upcoming primary in her home state of South Carolina could suffer a major setback if she fails to achieve this result. However, it is worth noting that South Carolina is considered to be an even more favorable ground for Trump, as indicated by 538’s polling average.

According to the latest statistics from 538, Trump is currently enjoying a significant lead over Haley in South Carolina, with a margin of over 30 points.

Haley and her campaign surrogates have been optimistic about her prospects in New Hampshire. Although they have tempered their expectations more recently, shifting from anticipating a clear victory to acknowledging that trailing behind Trump by a small margin would suffice to sustain her candidacy, the former governor remains confident during her campaign.

“It’s down to one man and one woman now,” she declared confidently at a recent campaign event, following DeSantis’ decision to suspend his campaign. With determination in her voice, she added, “May the best woman emerge victorious in the end.”

According to Republican and nonpartisan operatives in the state, in order for Haley to secure a victory, she would have to exceed expectations among undecided voters, who comprise the largest group of voters in the state. Additionally, she would need these voters to turn out in unprecedented numbers, considering Trump’s enduring popularity among registered Republicans.

According to Andrew Smith, the director of the University of New Hampshire’s survey center, undeclared voters tend to vote at lower rates compared to registered Republicans. It has been observed that no candidate has ever won the primary without winning the majority of registered voters from their own party. Additionally, it has been noted that winning the support of independent voters is crucial in securing victory.

According to Smith, there is a possibility of it happening, but for that to occur, the turnout would need to consist of 55% undeclared voters and 45% registered Republicans. However, historically, the highest percentage of undeclared voters in a turnout has been 40% in 2012. Additionally, she would also need to secure 65% of the undeclared votes.

According to Carney, it may prove challenging to achieve such a high turnout of independents in the GOP primary, especially with the competing activity happening on the Democratic side. President Joe Biden’s supporters are actively trying to generate support for a write-in campaign in the party’s unsanctioned primary. Additionally, this primary also includes two unlikely challengers, Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson.

According to Carney, some undecided voters may feel that they cannot prevent Trump from winning, so they might choose to vote against him or for Biden instead. Undeclared voters, in particular, tend to make their decisions closer to the election and have the flexibility to vote strategically, aiming for maximum enjoyment, impact, or disruption. Carney suggests that if Biden’s victory in the general election seems highly likely, there may be less incentive for Democrats to vote in the primary. In this scenario, it could potentially benefit Haley more.

According to strategists, Haley is likely to place even greater emphasis on securing strong support from undecided voters following the withdrawals of Ramaswamy and DeSantis. These two candidates were often seen as direct competitors to Trump, as they shared similar platforms. With their exit from the race, Trump’s already substantial advantage could potentially become even more significant.

According to Mike Dennehy, a GOP strategist from New Hampshire, he believes that Donald Trump has the potential to achieve a 60% approval rating. Dennehy explains that in order for this to happen, Nikki Haley needed both Vivek and DeSantis to stay in the race and split the Republican vote. However, with both candidates dropping out, Trump’s popularity has increased by 7 to 10 points.

538’s polling advantage has indeed contributed to Haley gaining support in recent days. However, it is worth noting that Trump has managed to gain even more support during this time.

According to Dennehy, he believes that Haley was too cautious and indecisive in New Hampshire, which may have had a negative impact on her level of support.

During her campaign, Haley focused heavily on retail stops across the state, surpassing Trump in terms of numbers. However, she chose to limit her media interviews and town hall events, where reporters and voters could have scrutinized her on various issues. Additionally, Haley declined to engage in a debate with DeSantis while he was still a candidate.

In recent months, she has intensified her direct criticisms of Trump. Previously, she expressed mixed feelings about him, portraying him as the “correct” president during his tenure but also acknowledging the chaos he caused. She even stated that if she were elected and he was found guilty of a crime (despite his denial of any wrongdoing), she would pardon him. Additionally, she indicated that she would back him if he became the final Republican candidate for the presidency.

According to Dennehy, when candidates transition from Iowa to other states, they have a limited amount of time to campaign and need to make the most of every resource at their disposal. However, he feels that Hillary Clinton was at a disadvantage because she wasn’t using all the tools available to her. Dennehy believes that simply holding supporter rallies is not enough to reach and sway independent voters. In order to be successful, Clinton needed to adopt a more insurgent approach and appeal to a wider audience.

ABC News reached out to Haley’s campaign for comment on the race, but they did not provide a response. It is worth noting that not all operatives had the same concerns about Haley’s campaign strategy. Some argued that it is important not to alienate Trump voters, as they make up a significant portion of the Republican base.

According to everyone interviewed by ABC News, there is one consistent theme: regardless of strategy, Trump remains the most popular politician in the Republican Party. Removing him through a primary challenge is quite difficult, especially when considering the impact of independent votes in a single state.

Smith praised her performance in the race, stating, “I believe she ran an outstanding race. She played her cards to the best of her ability, but unfortunately, they weren’t the winning hand.”

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