The New Hampshire people are plain-spoken, decent, and conservative. They are also politically savvy. There is some good news in how they expressed themselves in their state’s Republican Primary.
This blog, Against the Flow, sees three main aspects of the New Hampshire result: first, Donald Trump underperformed. His results were well below his own much-vaunted expectations; second, Trump showed himself to be a very poor winner and he put on display several distasteful aspects of his character; and third, and perhaps surprisingly, organizers for President Joe Biden may well be pleased to be very likely competing head to head against Trump in November.
Trump underperformed: The former president wanted to beat Nikky Haley by at least twenty percentage points. In fact, his margin of victory was more like 10 per cent. His total was far below his own much vaunted expectations, and he was not pleased. The Trump juggernaut blew a tire, and the former president, for all his faults, is not stupid. The New Hampshire result may have told him that despite his strength in much of the Republican Party, his election in November is not a sure bet.
Trump showed he is a poor winner: In her campaign and on election night Nikky Haley made it clear that she is a fighter. She did not kiss Trump’s ring when all the results were in, and her good showing was revealed. Trump has displayed bad behavior all along: the sexual assaults he has been accused of, the defamations he has denied, the shoddy business practices he has maintained, the numerous criminal offences he has been charged with, and even the insurrection he encouraged against the seat of American democracy, the U.S. Capitol building.
But in all these cases Trump found someone else to blame: “gold-digging” former female associates; “disloyal” former political staffers; “biased” New York prosecutors; the “vindictive” U.S. Department of Justice; and “wrong-headed” former Republican congressional representative Liz Cheney who has pursued Trump courageously about the storming of the Capitol; and, of course there is also, “poor, old and corrupt” Joe Biden.
With the New Hampshire result and Trump’s reaction to it, the former president has no one to blame but himself.
A few days ago, as the New Hampshire results became clear, reporters described how Trump was visibly angry. Haley had not come over to his side. Many other senior Republican candidates have accepted defeat, rolled over, and then, endorsed Trump. Chief among these is Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida who withdrew from the Republican presidential race just before the New Hampshire Primary.
On primary night in New Hampshire, Trump said of Haley: “Someone ran to the stage, all dressed up…she’s doing a speech like she won, and she lost…Haley claimed victory, despite doing very poorly.”
These and other comments show that Trump is unable to be gracious in victory. MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans will no doubt ignore all Trump’s legal problems, but now, more Republicans may be surprised with how Trump reacted to Haley. Trump’s true nature was graphically on display.
It is obvious that Haley is not going to beat Trump for the Republican nomination and will soon have to pull out of this American electoral blood sport, where money flows to those who have a chance ultimately to win. But Trump’s bad behaviour and lack of character will shine on. This time, he had no one to blame but himself.
And finally, Democrats now likely favour a Trump-Biden contest: It is interesting for the Democrats that exit polling showed that many Haley voters were largely independents or members of the more traditional wing of the Republican Party. Quite possibly, these types of voters would support Biden in the expected Biden-Trump election on Nov. 5. Trump’s words about Haley will likely to be re-played multiple times by the Democrats in their speeches and advertising when the full-on Trump-Biden battle begins soon.
A small consideration as well is that Democrat insiders may be happy to see Haley leave the race, because she is running around complaining about two 80-year-old candidates, and the Democrats may feel that this reflects more negatively on Biden with his shuffling walk, stutter, and generally older looks, than on Trump.
Overall, the Democrats may ultimately believe that it will be easier to beat Trump when his worst attributes are clear. Biden himself appears very comfortable saying that Trump is the enemy of American democracy. Trump is also an angry bear for many nations of the world. Biden has done relatively well on the world stage in supporting Ukraine against Putin’s Russia, and taking a balanced stance in the Israeli-Palestinian war and pushing for a two-nations solution to this challenging situation. Also, Trump could be convicted of a felony in at least one of his upcoming trials. Lastly, the American economy appears to be picking up and this will be good for Biden.
Canada must continue to prepare for a Trump victory in November, but there are signs, beginning with New Hampshire, that all is not going well for Trump’s return to the White House.