Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley – who came in third place in the recent Iowa caucuses – is neck and neck with Former President Trump in New Hampshire according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. This is an increase for Haley since December and positions her as a formidable challenge to Trump in the primary contest next Tuesday.
However, there is strong evidence New Hampshire GOP primary voters prioritize border security and the economy – two issues Trump consistently leads Haley on. In fact, Trump beat Haley by 53 points on immigration and 36 points on the economy in the Iowa caucuses entrance polls this week.
According to the American Research Group poll, Trump and Haley now garner 40 percent of the GOP primary vote in New Hampshire, while DeSantis earns just 4 percent. A month ago, Haley garnered 29 percent of the vote to Trump’s 33 percent, and DeSantis garnered six percent.
The race is tightening, and voters are consolidating behind both Trump and Haley – with both candidates upping their share of the vote since December. Haley has gained 11 percentage points and Trump has added seven since December according to the survey.
DeSantis, meanwhile, has lost two percentage points since December, despite coming in second in the Iowa caucus on Monday.
Haley appears confident heading into New Hampshire’s primary race next week, framing New Hampshire as a two-person race between herself and Trump.
“Now, we’re in New Hampshire”, Haley told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday after her narrow loss of second place to DeSantis in the Iowa caucuses. “You can look at the polls in New Hampshire. We’re a stone’s throw away from Donald Trump.”
While Haley is neck and neck with Trump in New Hampshire, when primary voters are pulled on what they look for in a president and on their top priorities, it is hard to argue they want a GOP candidate who is significantly different from Trump.
First, polling from YouGov shows voters say Trump is more of a strong leader than Haley by a resounding 25 percentage points, 66% to 41%. Even Haley’s largest supporters – moderates – say Trump is a stronger leader by 15 points, 52% to 37%.
The same poll finds 71% of New Hampshire GOP primary voters say if the nominee for president were not Trump, they would want that individual to share Trump’s policy views. Fifty-eight percent of moderates, Haley’s biggest supporters, agree.
New Hampshire voters are also aware of where Haley’s policy views differ from Trump’s. While DeSantis falls in distant third place in New Hampshire, voters still say that between Haley, DeSantis, Christie, and Ramasamy, DeSantis’ policy views are the most like Trump’s.
Then, we have GOP primary polling from Suffolk University showing New Hampshire GOP voters are laser-focused on border security, an issue where Trump dominates. Immigration is the number one issue for New Hampshire GOP voters according to that poll, with 37% of voters prioritizing immigration, followed by 32% who prioritize the economy.
When we look at Iowa caucus entrance polls, it is clear that Trump won voters who prioritize these two issues by a wide margin – and Haley won just one group, voters who prioritize national security. In Iowa, Trump beat Haley among voters who prioritize immigration by a resounding 53 points, 64 percent to 11 percent. Trump beat Haley among voters who prioritize the economy by 36 points, 52% to 16%. But Haley beat Trump among voters who prioritize foreign policy by nine points, 45% to 36%.
What this indicates is that while New Hampshire is shaping up to be a very close race, the broad majority of GOP primary voters want a candidate who shares Trumps policy views, and the state places heavy emphasis on two issues Trump recently beat Haley on by double digit margins.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.