So, it now looks like Trump has Iowa wrapped up in his favor but the latest poll out of New Hampshire from St. Anselm’s College raises at least some doubt as to whether MAGA will carry Trump very far in the 2024 GOP primary race.
This poll shows Trump with a 14-point lead over Haley (44 to 30) with Christie, DeSantis and Ramaswamy dividing 23 points, which means that as of December 19, GOP voters in New Hampshire had all made up their minds.
The problem for Haley is that most of her gain from early October, when she was at 13 points, has come from taking votes away from candidates other than Trump, with his numbers staying fairly constant over the same period of time.
On the other hand, when you want to figure out the meaning of a poll, the devil’s always in the details, and the details of the St. Anselm poll may hold some interesting findings for both Haley and Trump.
To begin, it should be noted that the St. Anselm pollsters were very careful to keep a balance, ideologically speaking, in terms of whom they polled. 47% of the respondents said they were politically conservative, 43% claimed to be liberals. Women were 51%, men were 49%. On the other hand, while abortion was considered a major issue by 22% of the females but only 5% of the males, 55% of likely GOP primary voters who were female had a favorable impression of Trump, whereas 63% of the likely male primary voters said they were strongly or moderately supportive of Trump.
But here is where the itsy-bitsy details really start to matter because Haley’s strong support from women was almost entirely in the ‘strongly favorable’ category, whereas Trump’s support among men was split between ‘strongly favorable’ versus ‘somewhat favorable,’ which isn’t quite as good.
No doubt it’s this kind of polling which accounts for Haley taking the gloves off in New Hampshire this week and going after Trump in a direct, no-nonsense kind if way. Until now, Haley had been talking about Trump in vague generalities, saying how the country needed a ‘new beginning’ and other sweet nothings like that.
Haley has now started calling Trump a ‘liar’ and you don’t back down from saying things about your opponent like that.
There are 16 days left between today and when the voters go to vote in New Hampshire, and the only way that Haley can come close to Trump is if she begins to peel support directly away from him rather than picking up a few more points as the campaigns of DeSantis and Ramaswamy continue to go nowhere fast.
Right now, Trump’s numbers of voters who find him ‘strongly favorable’ in New Hampshire are exactly what the polls say is his overall voting score, i.e., 45%. If Haley can peel away every other Trump supporter who only finds him ‘somewhat favorable,’ she will still come up slightly short.
The big problem with the Sr. Anselm poll is that it gives Biden a 3-point lead in a head-to-head matchup with Trump, but nowhere in the poll were respondents asked to choose in a general election between Haley and Biden – the omission is glaring, to say the least.
I say this because if Haley can remain competitive with Trump, not necessarily ahead but at least not far behind, what could become a winning issue for her would be the question of electability come November 5, 2024.
What the St. Anselm poll shows is that Trump has a hammerlock on a large minority of the GOP vote which will carry over from the nominating process to the general election and beyond. But unless you get 50% of the vote plus one, you’re just another person who ran for President and lost.
For Haley, the challenge is to make sure that she doesn’t wind up as just another politician whose name we won’t remember within a month after the Presidential 2024 campaign comes to an end.