Haley Refuses to Quit after Trump Claims N.H. Primary
Former president Donald Trump has won the New Hampshire primary, soaring towards a third consecutive Republican presidential nomination despite orchestrated opposition from both Democrats and the “Never Trump” wing of the GOP. On Tuesday night, Trump bested former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley by an 11-point margin, winning with 54.5% of the vote against Haley’s 43.2%.
According to a CNN exit poll, roughly 70% of Haley voters were either Democrats or Independents. New Hampshire allows for voters to “cross over” during primaries, while the majority of state primaries going forward will only be open to registered Republicans. This means that Haley really only garnered less than 13% support from Granite State Republicans.
Conservatives are pointing out that Democrats voting in a Republican primary against the leading candidate is a form of election interference. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk declared, “This is Democrat election interference, enabled by an insane open-primary system.” Former Fox News writer Kyle Becker said, “Democrats CHEATED in New Hampshire tonight. Nikki Haley only got 26% of her vote from Registered Republicans.” Conservative lawyer Rogan O’Handley asked, “What … is the point of an open primary?!” He added, “The Democrat Party isn’t allowing a primary, so every Dem voter just went to the polls to vote for Nikki Haley.”
That same CNN exit poll found that even moderate Republicans in New Hampshire were more willing to support Trump than Haley. Only about two-thirds of Republicans polled identified as “conservative,” a minority identified as “very conservative,” and most said they did not identify with the “Make America Great Again” movement, but a majority (roughly 60%) agreed they’d prefer Trump over the former South Carolina governor. A substantial number also think Trump would be fit to serve even if convicted of the criminal indictments leveled against him by the U.S. Justice Department and prosecutors who have openly espoused leftist views. In fact, a CBS exit poll found that 50% of New Hampshire voters would support Trump’s presidency even if he were convicted (results that mirrored a similar poll in Iowa, where 64% of Republicans would back Trump even if convicted).
According to pollster Rich Baris, Trump not only beat his own 2020 record for most votes received in the Republican New Hampshire primary, but also beat the all-time record for votes received in any New Hampshire primary.
“She had a very bad night,” Trump said of Haley’s performance in the polling booths. “I said, ‘Wow, she’s doing … a speech like she won.’ She didn’t win, she lost.” Trump also joked about Haley placing third in last week’s Iowa caucuses, finishing behind both Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who dropped out afterwards and endorsed Trump. “If you remember, Ron [DeSantis] was very upset because she ran up and she pretended she won Iowa,” the former president said. “And I looked around and I said, ‘Didn’t she come in third?’ Yeah, she came in third.”
Haley’s lackluster performances in both Iowa and now New Hampshire have prompted renewed calls for her to drop out of the race. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave this blunt assessment, “Trump will be the GOP nominee. What we don’t know yet is how much donor money is going to be wasted over the next month,” referring to Haley sinking a whopping $31 million into her New Hampshire campaign’s failed advertising. Trump, meanwhile, spent half of that total.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has by no means been a Trump ally in recent years, endorsed the former president after he won New Hampshire and recommended Haley drop out. “I have seen enough,” he said. “To beat Biden, Republicans need to unite around a single candidate, and it’s clear that President Trump is Republican voters’ choice.” Dr. Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon and former Secretary of House and Urban Development, also called on Haley to end her campaign, saying, “I want to congratulate my good friend [Trump] on another resounding win in New Hampshire tonight. This primary is over, and I pray [Haley] will drop out so we can focus our efforts on defeating Biden in November. We have a country to save and the stakes are too high.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) congratulated Trump Tuesday night on his decisive win, urging Haley in a statement to drop out. He said, “It’s now past time for the Republican Party to unite around President Trump so we can focus on ending the disastrous Biden presidency and growing our majority in Congress.” Johnson endorsed Trump in November and has been joined by many of Trump’s former primary contenders, including DeSantis, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Trump even joked about Scott’s endorsement, noting that Haley had appointed Scott to the Senate, yet he still chose to endorse Trump. “You must really hate her,” Trump said amid laughter. When Scott took the microphone from him, Trump quipped, “Uh oh.” But the senator spread his hands wide and said, “I just love you,” as the crowd broke out laughing and cheering again. In fact, Haley has received precious little support from her home state of South Carolina. In addition to Scott, current Governor Henry McMaster (R) also endorsed Trump. Haley recently complained that there’s “no love for me” from South Carolina politicians, while simultaneously belittling those whose endorsements she’s missed.
However, Haley is not only not dropping out, but is clearly pinning her hopes on South Carolina’s primary at the end of February. Addressing her primary loss Tuesday night, Haley emphasized that she intends to continue campaigning. She said, “New Hampshire is first in the nation, it is not last in the nation. There are dozens of states left to go — and the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina.” Yet according to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight, Trump is currently (as of time of writing) polling at 62% in the Palmetto State, while Haley trails behind at a meager 25%.
The next contest before South Carolina is the Nevada caucuses, which Haley has refused to participate in, arguing that because it is only open to Republicans, it is unfairly slanted in Trump’s favor. She will, however, participate in the Nevada primary, which Politico anticipates she will lose resoundingly. The caucuses decide which candidate receives Nevada’s Republican delegates, while the primary awards no delegates. According to Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney, the former ambassador to the U.N. is hoping that Super Tuesday on March 5, which features more open primaries — namely, in Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia — and thus allows for more crossover voting, will provide her a fighting chance against Trump. Ankney said, “After Super Tuesday, we will have a very good picture of where this race stands. At that point, millions of Americans in 26 states and territories will have voted.” She added, “Until then, everyone should take a deep breath.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.