2024 Election Odds Preview: New Hampshire Republican Primary
After the Iowa caucus saw Donald Trump cement his hold on the Republican Party, the contest in New Hampshire threatens to weaken it. With Ron DeSantis running a better-than-expected second and Nikki Haley within striking distance of a lead in some NH polls, could New Hampshire primary odds see an upset? And if so, how much are the Iowa results responsible for it?
Iowa Caucus Takeaways
Iowa was a disappointment for yours truly – Nikki Haley was polling in second and failed to get there. That said, the Iowa caucus was held in incredibly cold temperatures, depressing turnout considerably from 2016. It’s entirely possible that Haley’s campaign would have done what the polls said they would if not for the incredible cold snap that hit the Midwest and Northeast this week.
Ron DeSantis is, in some ways, the “winner” of Haley’s inability to turn out her voters. His campaign is still alive going into New Hampshire, which wasn’t clear before this weekend. That said, polling in the Granite State has shown DeSantis in the single digits. It’s not likely Iowa will boost him significantly here.
Donald Trump was the actual winner of Iowa, but two developments have implications for New Hampshire. The dropping out of Vivek Ramaswamy has freed up some votes that will likely drift back to Trump, but DeSantis is still in this race. With Chris Christie dropping out and boosting Nikki Haley, a DeSantis dropout would have helped Trump fight back.
New Hampshire Primary Odds
New Hampshire Prospects
The state of the New Hampshire polls before any post-Iowa samples is pretty clear – Trump’s ahead, but not insurmountably so. Emerson had a 16% Trump lead over Nikki Haley with 12% sitting with Christie, CNN had a 7% lead with 12% with Christie, and Suffolk had a 20% lead with Christie at 12%. Christie supporters, overwhelmingly anti-Trump, break significantly for Haley according to all second-choice polling.
Yes, in all of those polls, Trump does have some wiggle room created by the dropping out of Ramaswamy, but Haley has been betting on New Hampshire to be her coming out party. She’s been banking on a win in New Hampshire to springboard her.
Her plan is complicated by DeSantis beating her in Iowa because instead of a momentum narrative following her, RDS will be taking her news coverage and attention. On the other hand, DeSantis climbing back to 12%, maybe mostly at the hands of voters who would have otherwise voted for Trump, could be quite helpful to Haley in pulling off the upset.
More to the point, with DeSantis still in the race, Trump can’t drop the hammer entirely on her. DeSantis’ closing Iowa message was finally a proper attack on Donald Trump. It’s an attack that, in all likelihood, will keep Trump’s ire focused on the Florida Governor. To whatever extent DeSantis might also have momentum, Trump will want to kill that off quickly. Having Trump’s financial resources, speeches, and social media posts pointed at DeSantis will help Haley.
The right comparison might be the last female candidate to underperform on a cold, January Iowa night, Hillary Clinton in 2008. Her campaign, supposedly stuck in neutral after losing Iowa to Barack Obama, went to New Hampshire and won.
The attributes that make you a good candidate for Iowa are often inverse to what you need in New Hampshire. Whereas Trump excelled with the rural, working-class, non-degree holders in Iowa, New Hampshire is more educated, moderate, and less partisan, especially in a year when Democrats don’t have a competitive primary.
At her price, she’s worth betting. Two weeks ago, I thought she was going to win straight up, and now I’m not sure.
The Iowa failure is a complication to the path. The good thing for Haley is that the media isn’t covering this as a failure for her as much as just an act of God. Independents and Democrats can vote in the GOP primary, and those voters are breaking overwhelmingly for Haley.
She probably needs to do an event with Christie, especially after he was caught on a hot mic saying, “She’s gonna get smoked (by Trump).” That said, she’s endorsed by the popular Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, and has been outspending everyone in the state.
Iowa was inarguably a shot to Haley’s campaign. A better result in the Hawkeye State would have set Haley up better to pull the upset on Trump. But it hasn’t ended the chances of it. There are structural reasons to think Haley still might get over the line. One of them is that we saw the impact of her ad blitz in Iowa. She did stretch out a big polling lead on DeSantis in the closing stretch.
That the vagaries of a caucus held in sub-zero weather didn’t allow it to show in reality shouldn’t shake us from betting Haley in New Hampshire at this price.
Best of luck betting New Hampshire Primary odds!