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After Iowa, Trump Sets Sights on New Hampshire, Haley

DeSantis says he will continue campaign after distant-second finis
Nikki Haley seeks a showdown with Donald Trump in next week’s New Hampshire primary. CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Nikki Haley seeks a showdown with Donald Trump in next week’s New Hampshire primary. CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Fresh off a record-setting victory in IowaDonald Trump shifted attention to his next target in the GOP nomination hunt: a New Hampshire primary that Nikki Haley hopes will stall the front-runner’s momentum.

Haley was edged out for second place in Iowa by Ron DeSantis, who once predicted he would win there. She is seen as stronger in New Hampshire and will seek to tap in to this state’s more-centrist electorate in the Jan. 23 primary. Her argument: Trump did a good job as president, but the controversies that surround him hurt the GOP’s chances of defeating President Biden in November.

The challenge for Haley—and DeSantis—is that in Iowa, Trump ran up the score with nearly every GOP demographic and in every type of community with a record margin of victory for a competitive Republican Iowa caucuses. Trump allies quickly argued the race should be over so he can focus on Biden, who has minor primary opposition and is building a massive war chest. Democrats are eager to see Trump back on the ballot, convinced voters again will reject him.


Donald Trump secured 51% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, while Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley lagged behind with 21% and 19%. WSJ Senior Political Correspondent Molly Ball explains what the results mean for the Republican nomination race. Photo: Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Haley congratulated Trump, but quickly touted her prospects in New Hampshire. “I can safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race,” she said. “The question before Americans is now very clear: Do you want more of the same, or do you want a new generation of conservative leadership?” The country, she said, is dreading a Trump-Biden rematch.

“If Haley doesn’t win New Hampshire, it’s all over. Trump has the nomination,” said Andy Smith, a nonpartisan pollster in the state.

DeSantis has faced questions about how long he would continue his campaign, given how intently he focused on Iowa. Still, he spun his distant-second finish Monday as a victory and insisted he would continue, with events scheduled Tuesday in South Carolina and New Hampshire. “We’ve got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” he said.

Ron DeSantis pledges to continue his campaign after falling well short of his predicted win in Iowa. PHOTO: KC MCGINNIS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A continuation of the Haley-DeSantis battle, however, might only benefit Trump. And Trump stands to gain from the exit Monday of Vivek Ramaswamy, who continuously praised Trump on the campaign trail and endorsed him on the way out.

“She needs this race to be a head-to-head race to have any shot,” Craig Robinson, a former Republican Party political director in Iowa, said Monday night.

The former president is set to headline a rally in southern New Hampshire at 5 p.m. Tuesday, while Haley is to appear an hour later in the northern part of the state. Recent polling of the state has shown Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, eating into Trump’s lead, with one having her cut it to single digits. 

Before Iowa, the FiveThirtyEight average of polls in New Hampshire had Trump at 43% vs. 30% for Haley, and just under 6% for DeSantis.

Given Trump’s dominant performance in Iowa, a solid win in New Hampshire could effectively knock out the competition, though his campaign estimates he wouldn’t collect the required delegates for the nomination until March.

The candidates challenging the former president had hoped to find enough dissatisfaction with him to build their own voter coalitions. Haley had shown signs in polling of consolidating college-educated Republicans, such as those in the suburbs or college towns of Iowa, as well as voters less committed to conservative causes. DeSantis had moved aggressively to win voters who fear a liberal takeover of schools, businesses and academia.

But Trump won all of those groups, according to preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of people who said they would participate in the caucuses. He carried 32% of college graduates to Haley’s 30%, while dominating among those without a four-year college degree. He beat Haley 45% to 33% among self-identified moderates. And he won the largest share of voters who said they lived in urban or suburban communities.


Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses with the largest margin in the history of the first Republican presidential nominating contest. Photo: Jerry Mennenga/ZUMA Press; Al Drago/Bloomberg News; Carolyn Kaster/AP; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

While caucus participants showed high concern about school curricula, saying kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms were too focused on teaching about racism, sexual orientation and gender identity, Trump won substantial majorities among all those voters, leaving DeSantis with little support.

The Iowa caucuses punctuated a yearlong battle to wrest the party away from Trump, one that consumed tens of millions of dollars in advertising and other campaign expenditures and transfixed voters on both sides of the aisle. More than a dozen challengers at one point competed for the Republican nomination.

The former president looked beatable when he announced his candidacy shortly after the 2022 midterm elections, when he was blamed for party losses after endorsing candidates in some key races. As calls grew for him to step aside, attention focused on DeSantis, who won re-election as governor in a landslide.

But Trump’s supporters remained steadfast, and his candidacy grew stronger amid a cascade of criminal prosecutions. He faces 91 criminal charges for matters including his handling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election

 Donald Trump hopes to ride his triumph in Iowa to a decisive victory in New Hampshire. PHOTO: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS
Donald Trump hopes to ride his triumph in Iowa to a decisive victory in New Hampshire. PHOTO: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS

One reason Haley’s prospects look better in New Hampshire is that large numbers of independents typically vote in that state’s GOP primary, widening her base of support. Some Democrats in Iowa said they planned to caucus for her, viewing her as the strongest candidate to block Trump from winning the nomination. Some voters may also cross the aisle in New Hampshire, where this year’s Democratic primary isn’t sanctioned by the national party.

Haley has touted her endorsement by popular New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. She was also boosted by last week’s sudden departure of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was staking his campaign on New Hampshire.

Sununu said on Sunday that Haley had a chance “of kind of shattering the presumptions that Donald Trump’s gonna run away with this.”

Eliza Collins and Aaron Zitner contributed to this article.

Write to Alex Leary at and John McCormick at

Author: Alex Leary and John McCormick

Source: WSJ:

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