- By Anthony Churcher
- North American Correspondent in New Hampshire
Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary, defeating his last rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Her victory means the race for the nomination is over, although Ms Haley is not yet ready to wrap up her campaign – an evening celebration that clearly irked the former president.
“She's doing… a speech like she's won,” he said of his rival, who has promised to be in the race later in the evening. “She didn't win, she lost.”
A rematch with Democratic nominee President Joe Biden in the November general election now looks more certain.
While Mr Trump's victory in New Hampshire will not match the 20-point margin predicted by recent polls, it should be enough to maintain the current direction of the race.
He won the first race in Iowa by a landslide. Upcoming states on the Republican primary calendar tilt in his favor over New Hampshire, and the march toward his nomination could quickly become crowded.
With every poll, one fact becomes clear. As polls have shown for months, the Republican Party is still the party of Donald Trump.
Through legal and political dramas, his platform's loyalty was unwavering. His brand of conservative populism is out of step with his party's voters, as is his focus on issues like immigration, crime and energy.
That won't stop Ms. Haley in the short term, but the reality is that New Hampshire is her best shot at upsetting Mr. Trump's steady march toward the Republican presidential nomination.
He spent tens of millions of dollars here and secured the endorsement of the state's popular Republican governor, but not enough of New Hampshire's large majority of independent voters and college graduates to deliver a victory.
Ms Haley now looks ahead to a primary in her home state of South Carolina next month. To get there, however, he will need continued campaign contributions.
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Despite the better-than-expected finish, which is no guarantee, the long odds of him winning the nomination have gotten even longer, with Trump leading the polls in many of the remaining states.
If she's floating, she may not have a particularly warm home. Mr Trump has the approval of most of South Carolina's Republican establishment and is leading in the polls. It's a point the former president was quick to point out in his Tuesday night speech.
“We'll go to South Carolina and I think we'll win easily,” he told a raucous crowd in Nashua.
It will be an ignominious way for Ms Haley to end what has been a relatively successful campaign on her old stomping grounds. It's a rule she can eventually avoid, but she has a month to turn it around.
Even if Ms. Haley ultimately sweeps in the coming days, the New Hampshire results should cause some concern among Mr. Trump's team.
A Fox News voter analysis found that 32% of Republican primary participants would not vote for him in the November general election if he wins the nomination. Only 49% said they consider themselves a MAGA supporter — a reference to the former president's Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
A CBS exit poll also paints a picture of Mr Trump's support base, but it also shows its limits. Among self-identified “very conservative voters,” the former president won 88%. He carried 66% of primary voters without a college degree and evangelical Christian voters by a similar margin.
He won only 23% of moderates and 39% of college graduates—he'll need to appeal if he wants to defeat President Biden.
After Tuesday night's results, a 2020 presidential rerun seems more likely, even though polls say a prospect many Americans don't welcome.