Donald Trump may be wrapping up his nomination but analysts have said there were “bright red warning signs” in New Hampshire.
Donald Trump’s win in the critical New Hampshire primary has all but sown up his campaign to be nominated as the Republican presidential candidate ahead of November’s election.
“The race is over,” his team sent in a text to supporters after the results came in.
But even as he savours his victory over his only remaining opponent Nikki Haley, there are “bright red warning signs” over his campaign, analysts have said and accusations his nomination is being driven by “political elitists”.
There are concerns in Republican circles that while he may have won the nomination battle he could yet lose the election war.
One sign of that is President Joe Biden’s seeming relish at the prospect of rematch with Mr Trump.
“It is now clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee,” he said.
“The stakes could not be higher. Our Democracy. Our personal freedoms — from the right to choose to the right to vote,” he said on Tuesday night setting up authoritarianism and abortion fears as two key Democratic election themes.
But it’s not a done deal yet, says United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who has confirmed she will continue to campaign for her party’s nomination.
Registered Republicans and independents could vote in the primary. The results determine how many of New Hampshire’s 22 delegates to July’s Republican National Convention (RNC) vote for either Mr Trump or Ms Haley. The RNC formally decides who will win the Republican nomination.
Ms Haley had been expected to perform well in New Hampshire – a less conservative and religious state than Iowa which held its RNC contest last week.
Mr Trump’s win – by around 10 points – was solid. But it was by no means the knockout blow he was hoping for and the polls had predicted.
“Voters he’ll need in November are either, at best, not voting for him, or at worst vowing to never vote for him,” it stated in an election analysis.
There’s no doubt there’s a large chunk of Republican voters who are right behind Mr Trump. And it’s these people who are propelling him to the coveted presidential ticket.
But a poll before the Iowa caucus – where Ms Haley came in third – showed 43 per cent of her backers would rather back Mr Biden over Mr Trump.
“I can’t vote for Trump. He’s a crook. He’s too corrupt,” one New Hampshire former Trump voter said.
Could tip the scales
Whereas in 2016 Mr Trump was a candidate who many rolled the dice on, in 2024 voters will be able to judge him on his actions as president which pollsters have said may deter some moderate Republicans.
“That’s far from a majority of Republicans preparing to pass on Trump in November,” said Politico.
An exit poll of Republican voters by CNN in New Hampshire found that while two thirds said they were “conservative” most did not consider themselves “MAGA” – essentially code for dyed in the wool Trump supporters.
That’s far fewer than the nine out of 10 voters in Iowa who said they were conservative and half that said they were “MAGA”.
Around six in 10 New Hampshire GOP voters, as Republicans are known, said they would be happy to see Mr Trump as the nominee.
Yet independents who voted in the primary – neither registered Republicans nor Democrats – backed Ms Haley by two thirds.
“Twenty per cent of GOP voters will not vote for him,” a Republican member of Congress told CNN.
“Independent voters think Biden is weak, but they hate Trump. And Dems — he motivates them to vote.”
Haley goes on attack
New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu, a Haley supporter, warned that Mr Trump’s candidacy was being driven by “political elitists” in the Republican Party.
He told Fox News that Mr Trump was the “weakest candidate” and Ms Haley had a better chance of beating Mr Biden in a face-to-face contest.
That’s a theme that Ms Haley is running with, pointing out the number of elections Mr Trump has lost.
“The reality is, who lost the House for us? Who lost the Senate? Who lost the White House?” Ms Haley told reporters on Tuesday as people voted.
“Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump
She has vowed to carry on and Haley campaign ads have begun being airing in South Caroline, her home state and the location of the next primary which will be held in February.
“You’ve all heard the chatter among the political class,” she said on Wednesday.
“They’re falling all over themselves saying this race is over. Well, I have news for all of them: New Hampshire is first in the nation. It is not last in the nation. This race is far from over”.
A Haley source said Mr Trump had got “barley” half the votes in the two states he campaigned in: “That’s incredibly weak for an incumbent”.
Trump urges Haley to drop out
It’s probably wishful thinking on Ms Haley’s part that she can take the nomination.
Mr Trump looks to have all but sewn it up in just two races out of more than 50.
He said Ms Haley should suspend her race so he could focus on beating Mr Biden.
“She should because, otherwise, we have to keep wasting money instead of spending on Biden,” he told Fox News.
RNC chair Ronna McDaniel backed Mr Trump and said Ms Haley should drop out.
“I think she’s run a great campaign, but I do think there is a message from the voters which is very clear.
“We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is Donald Trump.”
But on Fox News, New Hampshire-based Republican consultant Jim Merrill said Ms Haley had “over performed expectations”.
“Donald Trump wanted a narrative out of New Hampshire that this race was over.