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GOP candidates intensify their campaigns in New Hampshire

Candidates have to tailor their messages to an electorate very different from Iowa — but no less important to early gains in the nomination race.
GOP candidates intensify their campaigns in New Hampshire
Posted at 7:57 PM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 17:45:16-05

In New Hampshire, voters take their first-in-the-nation primary status seriously. But the demographics in the Granite State are different from Iowa.

"For Republicans, the big difference is that New Hampshire Republicans are much less religious. In Iowa, the name of the game is 'Can you turn out evangelical Christians?' In New Hampshire, that demographic is far smaller than it is out there," said Chris Galdieri, professor of political science at St. Anselm College.

Nikki Haley has been hoping to capitalize on that difference. Even before Monday's caucuses in Iowa, she's been campaigning heavily all across New Hampshire, and for the past few weeks she's been closing the polling gap with Trump.

"She's also made a really strong play for what's left of the Republican establishment in this state. The folks who were much more likely to vote for John McCain or Mitt Romney than a Donald Trump, and as the field's gotten smaller she's really been the last candidate standing who can appeal to those sorts of folks," said Galdieri. 

While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had the endorsement of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Haley got the endorsement from New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

"She is surging. She is the only one with momentum, the only one when you talk about poll numbers moving, she's the only one across America anyone is talking about right now because folks are galvanizing around that, which is always the goal," said Sununu. 

Former President Donald Trump easily won Iowa with over 50% of the vote. The other candidates hoping to present themselves as the top Trump alternative need to have a good performance in New Hampshire.

And winning one of the two early states is a good omen for any candidate. In the last 50 years, no Republican has gone on to win the party's nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire.

Democrats are also voting in next week's primary — but due to New Hampshire breaking with the DNC's new primary calendar, President Biden won't be on the ballot. Instead, democrats have been mounting a write-in effort to still give the president a win.

SEE MORE: New Hampshire debates canceled over lack of commitment from candidates


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