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Trump marches to victory in New Hampshire, solidifying his grip on the Republican base

Former President Donald Trump gestures to supporters as he arrives at a campaign stop in Londonderry, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Former President Donald Trump gestures to supporters as he arrives at a campaign stop in Londonderry, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump scored his third consecutive New Hampshire primary victory Tuesday, showing his grip on the Republican base remains strong even as he faces multiple criminal charges and a growing chorus of opposition within his own party — including from New Hampshire’s popular Republican governor, Chris Sununu.

The Associated Press called the race for Trump moments after the final polling places in the state closed at 8 p.m. With about one-fifth of ballots counted, Trump leads with nearly 53% of the vote.

(See the full New Hampshire primary results here.)

Even as polls showed former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley making gains in New Hampshire in the primary’s closing weeks, Trump never seemed in serious doubt of losing here.

As the Republican field grew narrower and narrower — former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped out less than two weeks before the primary, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis followed suit just two days before Primary Day — Trump grew increasingly combative toward his lone remaining competitor.

Leaning into the racism that permeated his earlier presidential campaigns, he mocked Haley’s birth name and falsely suggested she was ineligible to run for president – echoing a similar conspiracy he amplified against former President Obama more than a decade earlier. Haley largely brushed off Trump’s tirades, saying “he’s insecure, he knows that something’s wrong.”

In the final days before the New Hampshire primary, Trump also wrongly suggested that Haley was in charge of security at the U.S. Capitol when a mob of his supporters stormed the building on Jan. 6, 2021. Haley said those comments were further evidence that Trump’s mental acuity had declined to the point that he wasn’t fit for office.

A crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump and journalists watches on a lobby television as Trump gives a speech at the Sheraton Nashua on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2023 following his win in the New Hampshire primary. (Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative)
Raquel C. Zaldívar
/
New England News Collaborative
A crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump and journalists watches on a lobby television as Trump gives a speech at the Sheraton Nashua on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2023 following his win in the New Hampshire primary. (Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative)

Haley and her supporters, meanwhile, were banking on a boost from New Hampshire voters who were fed up with Trump’s bombast. The former South Carolina governor campaigned extensively in New Hampshire, often alongside Sununu, whoendorsed her in December after passing on a presidential run of his own earlier in 2023. (Despite his passionate politicking for Haley, Sununu has repeatedly said he’ll vote for Trump if he ends up as the Republican nominee.).

At first, Sununu argued that New Hampshire voters would lift Haley to victory, because Trump was a proven “loser” and Granite Staters were looking to the future. But as the primary drew closer and polls showed Trump maintaining a commanding lead, Sununu tamped down expectations, saying a strong second place would be a good showing for Haley.

Before the polls closed in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Haley’s campaign manager insisted the race was far from over — asking everyone to “take a deep breath.”

Trump approached this year’s primary in much the same style he employed in his first two presidential bids: favoring large rallies instead of traditional retail campaigning, with little to no direct interaction with voters, conservative activists or local media.

As in his previous campaigns, he also spent little time on the details of his policy agenda. To the extent that he addressed the opioid crisis, a persistent issue of local importance in New Hampshire, he largely tied the problem back to immigration and foreign policy, rather than focusing on treatment, recovery or other solutions.

A pro-Donald Trump RV outside the Sheraton Nashua on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2023, following Trump’s win in the New Hampshire primary. Trump’s watch party was in the Sheraton.
Raquel C. Zaldívar
/
New England News Collaborative
A pro-Donald Trump RV outside the Sheraton Nashua on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2023, following Trump’s win in the New Hampshire primary. Trump’s watch party was in the Sheraton.

Trump’s campaign speeches served as platforms for him to lash out at political opponents, complain about his legal woes and issue promises for what he’d accomplish if voters return him to the White House.

Nonetheless, this lack of attention to local concerns or direct engagement with voters didn’t seem to trouble his New Hampshire supporters. For many, a vote for the former president represented a desire to correct course after four years of the Biden administration.

"The country's not going in the right direction,” said Jere Perkins, of Tilton. “So, gotta get out there and vote."

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Windham voter Terri Pourier echoed that sentiment.

“The economy is definitely without a doubt in trouble, and it needs to be turned around,” Pourier said. “Other countries think we're weak right now because we have a weak president.”