For GOP, New Hampshire primary is David vs. Goliath

New Hampshire is just the second state — behind Iowa — to hit the ballot box in these early steps of the 2024 presidential election. But what happens in the state Tuesday night will likely define the path to the Republican nomination.

Since the Iowa caucuses, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has tried to portray things as a two-person race, and — thanks to the surprise departure of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — that’s what it now is. Haley is trying to stop the seemingly unstoppable momentum of Republican front-runner and former President Donald Trump, who’s seeking to wrap up the nomination process with a second convincing win in New Hampshire.

The latest polls show the former president leading in the Granite State by a comfortable margin. But New Hampshire’s independent voters outnumber both registered Republicans and Democrats in the state and make up nearly 40% of the electorate.

Haley, who has been endorsed by the state’s popular Republican governor, generally performs well with independents and moderate Republicans. But is it enough to overtake Trump’s commanding lead?

The attacks have gotten personal in recent days, with Haley questioning Trump’s age and mental fitness.

“Don’t be surprised if you have someone that’s 80 in office — their mental stability is going to continue to decline,” she said. That’s just human nature.”

Trump, meanwhile, is blasting Haley, who is Indian American, as being too liberal for the GOP and using social media to highlight her first name — Nimarata — which critics say is nothing more than a dog whistle to the party’s overwhelmingly White base.

With several high-profile candidates now gone from the race, another big question is where do their supporters go Tuesday night? Analysts believe supporters of DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy will heavily break for Trump, while supporters of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will likely side with Haley.