Trump’s Next Big Test

( – Further proving his strong appeal amongst Republican voters, Donald Trump’s decisive victory in the Iowa caucuses sends a clear message to the rest of the nation, however, the upcoming New Hampshire primary presents a different challenge, given its less conservative electorate compared to Iowa.

Trump, while still favored to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, faces the need for a convincing win in New Hampshire to significantly diminish the chances of his remaining rivals. A strong performance in New Hampshire would allow him to focus earlier on the November 5 election against President Joe Biden.

In Iowa, Trump’s win was comprehensive, capturing nearly all of the state’s 99 counties. New Hampshire’s primary on January 23, however, presents a more varied voter base with fewer evangelical Christians and a higher number of independents. Trump leads in the polls, but Nikki Haley, appealing to moderate voters, has narrowed the gap.

Tom Rath, a seasoned Republican strategist in New Hampshire, noted, “Trump is strongest in an intensely partisan Republican environment. To the extent that you dilute that, it creates issues for him.” Haley, 51, has been actively campaigning in New Hampshire, focusing on TV ads and gaining the endorsement of the state’s governor, Chris Sununu.

In Iowa, Trump won almost every demographic group, but Haley’s appeal to moderates, though a smaller voter segment, was noticeable. Rick Jarvis, a Trump supporter, expressed his backing for Trump due to his stance on inflation and immigration.

Trump’s final push in New Hampshire will see a similar grassroots campaign to Iowa, with volunteers gathering data for follow-up engagement. However, unlike Iowa’s caucus system, New Hampshire voters will cast their ballots individually, posing a different challenge for mobilizing support.

Joel Tenney, an evangelist and caucus captain in Iowa, exemplified the grassroots effort in Iowa, making over 1,000 calls to mobilize voters. In contrast, New Hampshire’s primary does not rely on activists like Tenney to persuade voters at caucus sites.

Gregg Hough, chair of the Republican Party in New Hampshire’s Belknap County, described Trump supporters as having a “quiet resolve,” despite the lack of vocal, overt support.

Polling data from 538 shows Trump leading in New Hampshire with 43% support, followed by Haley with 30%, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at around 6%. New Hampshire’s diverse electorate, including over 340,000 independent voters, provides Haley with a potential opportunity to challenge Trump’s momentum. A strong showing or even a victory over Trump in New Hampshire could shift the narrative about the inevitability of his nomination.

Jim Merrill, a veteran Republican strategist in New Hampshire, suggested that Haley doesn’t necessarily need to win but must finish strong to shape the perception of the race as a two-person contest between her and Trump.