OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
It turns out that a late “surge” by 2024 GOP presidential contender and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley won’t be nearly enough to push her to victory over her one-time boss, Donald Trump, in the New Hampshire primary.
A survey touted by the state’s governor, Republican Chris Sununu, this week found that the points spread between Trump and Haley had narrowed to just seven points before former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided to abandon his 2024 campaign.
“New polls today show Nikki is SURGING and within SEVEN POINTS of Donald Trump in NH,” Sununu posted on the X platform. “In this two-person race, she’s the only candidate with the momentum to move us past the chaos and drama of Donald Trump.”
He was citing the results of a CNN/University of New Hampshire survey showing Trump leading Haley by a margin of just 39–32 percent.
However, as the New Hampshire Journal pointed out, that poll was very likely an outlier.
“But another poll released that same day from Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos put the race more in line with previous polling: Trump solid at 46 percent, Haley rising, but with just 26 percent support. (Both polls had Chris Christie at 12 percent),” the outlet reported, adding:
Now Emerson College and St. Anselm College have weighed in, and their numbers are closely in line with the Suffolk poll, not CNN/UNH.
The St. Anselm College Survey Center reported Trump at 45 percent and Haley at 31 percent. Christie was at nine percent, and DeSantis at six percent. Emerson had Trump at 44 percent and Haley at 28 percent, with Christie at 12 percent.
“Haley’s momentum appears to have slowed,” said New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque. He added that her 31 percent is “up just a single point from the Survey Center’s last poll in December.”
The outlet reported that Trump’s numbers have been in the mid-40s for months now, while Haley has remained relatively flat at around 30 percent. But, the Journal said, her numbers could change now that Christie has dropped out.
That said, Trump still has a double-digit lead, and since Haley doesn’t have much of a shot of winning in Iowa — where the former president’s lead is reportedly higher — she would have to win in New Hampshire for her campaign to have any real momentum moving forward, the outlet noted.
“Nikki is the only candidate with momentum, and you can feel it on the ground,” spokesperson Kate Deturk told NHJournal when asked how Haley planned to narrow the gap in New Hampshire. “More people are coming out to her events, and many of them are new voters who have never attended a Haley event before. Nikki is going to continue working hard to earn every vote in the Granite State.”
UNH political science professor Dante Scala says the fundamentals of the race, however, mean it’s going to be all uphill for the former South Carolina governor.
“For Haley, 35 percent is likely. And 40 percent is possible. But for Trump, a majority is within reach.”
Some veteran GOP operatives and strategists, however, still believe Haley has a shot.
“This race remains very fluid, and there are more surprises to come,” GOP strategist Pat Griffin told the Journal. “Christie votes largely go to Haley, and without a strong second place in Iowa, DeSantis is out. The dynamic suggests this is becoming a choice between Haley and Trump. And what’s most interesting — Trump knows it.”
Deturk said that Haley has a message for Christie voters, about a quarter of whom were Democrats, still trying to make up their minds about who they will support.
“Nikki’s message has always been that the Republican Party should be about addition, not subtraction,” Deturk said. “She’s looking to unite people so we can move on from the chaos and the drama of the past — whether it’s Joe Biden or Donald Trump. She’s the only candidate with a plan for making America strong and proud again.”