Polls show Trump still has a double-digit lead ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley's allies are now trying to downplay expectations.
Meanwhile, DeSantis is looking ahead to South Carolina.
The 2024 Republican presidential primary could effectively be over Tuesday, even though as of now barely over 110,000 Republicans have actually voted.
Former President Donald Trump's commanding win in Iowa has set him off for a potential glide path to his third straight GOP nomination if he can notch another blowout win in New Hampshire.
While Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley finally got her wish for a one-on-one match-up, her campaign was already downplaying expectations before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' abrupt exit over the weekend. The Granite State has delivered shocking results before, but Haley's allies are hoping that a strong second-place finish could hold off Trump's celebrations for just a little bit longer.
Here's what you need to know ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary:
Where does the race stand?
Trump has a roughly 18-percentage point lead in the state over Haley, according to FiveThirtyEight's weighted average. Any way you slice it, every recent poll shows the former president with a double-digit lead.
It's not surprising, then, that Gov. Chris Sununu, whose support has boosted Haley, is trying to pivot away from his once rosy hopes for Haley.
When can we expect results?
The small town of Dixville Notch continued its tradition of casting the primary's first votes at midnight. Haley swept the town's six votes.
As for the rest of the state, most polls open around 7 am ET. The last polls in the state close at 8 pm ET, though most close an hour earlier.
The Associated Press first reported results for the 2020 primary right around 7:30 pm. News networks and publications are going to be closely watched after their early projections of Trump's win in Iowa rankled some Republicans since not every caucus was complete.
Wait, I thought you said Iowa was first?
Iowa's Republican caucuses were the first contest, but New Hampshire has gone to great lengths to ensure its primary election is always the first primary.
If you want to know how seriously they take it, just look at what the Democrats are doing. The Democratic National Committee dethroned Iowa and New Hampshire, pushing South Carolina to kick off their nomination race. New Hampshire Democrats dug in so deeply that the state will hold a primary where President Joe Biden's name isn't even on the ballot. That's because the DNC stripped the state of all its delegates in response to their defiance.
But, enough about the Democrats' drama.
How is New Hampshire different from Iowa?
New Hampshire is a state-run primary, unlike Iowa's party-run caucus. While the Iowa caucuses only became a major event in the 1970s, New Hampshire has been the first presidential primary election since 1920. And yes, there's definitely a rivarly between the two smaller population states that have dominated American politics.
The biggest difference is that unlike Iowa, New Hampshire has a more open primary system. Registered unaffiliated or independent voters can cast a ballot in whatever primary they would like. In Iowa, parties require that independent voters switch their registration to be able to caucus for a candidate. Trump is trying to argue that this is tantamount to Democrats stealing the race, but Haley is just playing by the same rules he did in 2016.
New Hampshire also doesn't have anywhere near the number of white evangelical conservatives that vote in the Republican primary as Iowa does. These differences have historically given the state a reputation for supporting more centrist Republican presidential candidates. As a result, some hopefuls, most famously the late-Sen. John McCain, largely skip Iowa to focus their attention on the Granite State. It's not always a winning strategy though, just ask former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The reverse is also true in that some hopefuls have paid more attention to Iowa than New Hampshire, look no further than DeSantis. After failing to win a single county in Iowa, DeSantis' allies are regrouping in South Carolina for a potential last stand.
What are the stakes?
No candidate, including Trump, will come anywhere close to winning the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. This is by design. The early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina — are historically used to winnow the field of candidates before the big delegate prizes come on Super Tuesday.
But the early states do more than just end campaigns. As the only states voting, the results, fairly or unfairly, shape the media narrative that drives the entire primary. As a result, no recent Republican nominee has emerged without winning one of these four states.
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