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Previewing the New Hampshire Primary

Devlin: Previewing the New Hampshire Primary

Trump won New Hampshire by about 20 points in 2016. If that’s the spread for Tuesday’s matchup, give me Trump minus the points.

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(Photo by EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Republican primary might be over as soon as tomorrow night. After only one contest, the field has whittled down to two legitimate candidates: former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

On Tuesday, the pair will square off in the first primary of the cycle in New Hampshire. Polls coming out of the Granite state vary immensely. Last week, a poll from the American Research Group (ARG) found Trump has only a two-point advantage over Haley. Meanwhile, an InsiderAdvantage poll conducted at the same time as the ARG’s survey concluded Trump’s lead had expanded to 27 points. On average, Trump’s lead is 17.5 points, according to RealClear Polling.

New Hampshire finds itself in a peculiar set of circumstances. The Democrats have all but abandoned holding a legitimate primary in the state, and, because the primary is open, many voters who lean Democrat might show up to cast their ballots in the GOP primary—their primary motivation being to stop Trump. Furthermore, New Hampshire has more independents than Republicans or Democrats. It’s a well-educated, well-off state. Haley’s best shot at making a run at Trump is in New Hampshire, and her campaign has allocated its resources accordingly.

There are certain stereotypes that come to mind when someone claims they are an independent voter. Some, like educational attainment, I’ve already mentioned. They’re imagined to be somewhere ‘in the middle’; typically ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’; generally squishy. Not so in New Hampshire. 

On Tuesday, POLITICO published a piece profiling one of New Hampshire’s independent voters who briefly flirted with pulling the lever for Haley but is now solidly behind Trump. Ted Johnson is a 58-year-old, twice-married retired Army lieutenant colonel with three young adult sons who currently works for an IT security company. Previously, Johnson told POLITICO he was “behind” Haley and hoped the former South Carolina gained some momentum. She, in Johnson’s mind, is a “leader” who was “more than qualified” and could unify the country. Johnson even donated about $120 to the Haley campaign. About a month ago, however, Johnson texted POLITICO’s Michael Kruse that he was “Going with Trump.”

Johnson now believes Haley is “a flip flop RINO”: she “speaks to one side then to the other and thinks we are not paying attention.”

As for his support for Trump? “Our system needs to be broken,” Johnson told POLITICO, “and he is the man to do it.”

“This is what I hope,” Johnson also told POLITICO: Trump “breaks the system… he exposes the deep state, and it’s going to be a miserable four years for everybody.”

As Republican strategist Luke Thompson previously told The American Conservative, “You also have a very fiery, libertarian, grassroots, populist component of the independent electorate in New Hampshire as well.” This kind of independent voter, the Ted Johsnon type, “were a big reason why Donald Trump crushed in 2016 in New Hampshire. He just cleaned up with them.”

Trump won New Hampshire by about 20 points in 2016. If that’s the spread for Tuesday’s matchup, give me Trump minus the points.

The post Previewing the New Hampshire Primary appeared first on The American Conservative.

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