Former President Donald Trump is enjoying quite a nice boost from his appearance at CPAC last weekend, and some Republican voters seem to be turning back toward supporting him as a result.
A poll of New Hampshire primary voters showed that Trump has 58% support from Republicans in the state, which is 41 points ahead of his nearest rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who only got 17%.
None of the other candidates broke double digits in the poll, including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who got seven percent.
Trump besting all comers
The only two candidates officially in the race are Trump and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who thinks the GOP needs a “new generation” of leadership and has suggested that candidates for political office over age 75 should take a cognitive test before they can run for office.
Haley got six percent in the poll.
Older voters who typically vote conservatively did not like the insinuation that people over 75 should have to prove their fitness to run for office, but watching President Joe Biden dodder around and make gaffe after gaffe has got to be painful, even for them.
It is clearly Trump’s moment, but how long that moment will last remains to be seen. DeSantis may get a large bump when he enters the race, probably in May or June, and if Trump’s enemies can find any dirt on him that actually sticks before the primaries start next year, some voters may decide he’s too much of a risk.
New Hampshire primaries yield mixed results
New Hampshire is currently the first primary after the Iowa caucuses, so it will be important for Trump to make a good showing early on. If DeSantis can chip away at his lead and gain some momentum, many GOP voters may turn toward him because he has less baggage than Trump.
In some New Hampshire primaries, the winner has gone on to win the nomination, but other years, another candidate gained momentum and won after losing in New Hampshire.
For example, former President Ronald Reagan stalled out before New Hampshire and didn’t gain momentum until the southern primaries, where he gained enough strength to get the nomination.
Similarly, in 2000, John McCain won the New Hampshire primary, but Bush began to win primaries after that and was able to get the nomination.
It will be a unique situation in 2024 in that Trump was president previously, but will not be a true incumbent in 2024 because he lost in 2020.
Historically, incumbent presidents do very well when running for re-election and are rarely challenged by others in their party, but this could be one election where nothing goes according to plan and predictions are not easy to make.
Trump still has an extremely strong base, but also many detractors, so we will see if he is able to hold onto enough GOP support to make it to the nomination.