Former President Donald Trump is poised to win his third consecutive Republican presidential nomination after a clear victory Tuesday over former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the New Hampshire primary.
The results seem likely to set up a rematch in November between Trump and President Joe Biden, the Democrat who unseated him in the 2020 election. However, Haley was clear afterward that she planned to continue in a two-person race.
The Associated Press called the race for Trump at 8 p.m.
With 49% percent of all precincts reporting, Trump had 55% of the vote and Haley had 44.2%, according to Decision Desk HQ.
Trump’s victory in New Hampshire follows last week’s blowout win in the Iowa caucuses, where the 45th president won more than 50% of the vote in a four-candidate race that also included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, both of whom since have withdrawn and endorsed Trump.
“If you win both, they’ve never had a loser. Let me put it that way,” Trump said. “When you win Iowa and you win New Hampshire, they’ve never had a loss. So we are not going to be the first.”
“We are going to win this. We have no choice. If we don’t win, I think our country is finished,” Trump later said. “I believe our country is finished. We have an opportunity to do something so amazing. And the good news and the reason we have such support, the best numbers I’ve ever had, the reason I have such support is because they are so bad at what they are doing, and so evil, and they are destroying our country.”
Yet Haley surpassed expectations in New Hampshire, as the most recent polls showed Trump with a lead of 58% to Haley’s 36% in the Real Clear Politics average.
The former president becomes the first candidate to win three presidential primaries in New Hampshire.
On the Democrat side, Biden won New Hampshire as a write-in candidate, defeating longshot challenger Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who was on the ballot.
The next GOP contest is in Nevada and the Virgin Islands, where a Republican caucus occurs Feb. 8. The South Carolina primary is set for Feb. 24. Michigan’s primary will be Feb. 27. On March 5, 16 states will have contests in what is known as Super Tuesday.
Haley was Trump’s first ambassador to the United Nations. The South Carolina primary is Feb. 24, her home state, where she trails her former boss by over 30 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Nevertheless, Haley spoke first Tuesday night, congratulating Trump but making it clear the fight continues.
“The political class is falling over itself saying it’s over,” Haley said. “New Hampshire is the first in the nation, not the last in the nation. It is far from over. There are dozens of states left to go.”
She went on to reference the ages of Trump, 77, and Biden, 81.
“The first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate is the party who wins the election,” Haley said. “That should be the Republicans.”
Though Trump gave a conciliatory victory speech in Iowa, he ripped Haley as an “imposter” for giving a fiery speech despite losing.
“When I watched her in the fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy, I said, what’s she doing, we won. She did the same thing last week,” Trump said.
Two former GOP contenders, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Ramaswamy spoke at the rally. Leading into the South Carolina primary, Scott said, “It is time for the Republican Party to coalesce around our nominee, Donald Trump.”
Trump’s win comes one night after a rally in Laconia, New Hampshire, that included brief speeches from three of his former GOP challengers—Ramaswamy, Scott of South Carolina, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
DeSantis, who came in a distant second place in the Iowa caucuses, dropped out of the race Sunday and endorsed Trump in a video statement.
Haley, who argued that Trump can’t win in November or would be surrounded by “chaos” if elected, had pointed to general election polls that show her lead over Biden to be larger than Trump’s.
Haley had the backing of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican. She also was endorsed in the primary by both the conservative editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper in Manchester and the left-leaning editorial board of The Boston Globe.
At one point earlier in the campaign, Haley appeared to be within striking distance of Trump, trailing by only seven points. However, after Trump’s decisive win in Iowa, his lead grew to more than 20 points.
Most polls closed at 7 p.m. in New Hampshire, although some were open until 8 p.m. Voters already in line by closing time were allowed to vote.
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.
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