Manchester, New Hampshire
New Hampshire votes tomorrow and today Nikki Haley has just two planned events in the state. She has a morning meet-and-greet in the city of Franklin and a “get out the vote rally” in Salem this evening.
Nobody could accuse Haley of not working hard. She’s famously an industrious woman. But given the make-or-break nature of tomorrow’s vote, her campaign seems strangely lacking in urgency. Yes, she’s spending a fortune on campaign ads. Yes, she’s engaging in slanging matches with Donald Trump, which is a useful fodder for an increasingly desperate media. She accused him of being “clearly insecure” and having “temper tantrums” — and he mocked her unusual name.
But her campaign just hasn’t caught fire in the way that anti-Trump Republicans hoped it would. Optimistic analysts have been trying very hard to play on the historic unpredictability of New Hampshirites, and their more liberal independent instincts.
But New Hampshire doesn’t dislike Trump and the MAGA movement is strong here, as it is almost everywhere in America.
Haley’s team regarded a crowd of 150 at one of her events on Friday as a sign of “energy” and “excitement.” Donald Trump fills out stadia across the state and nobody bats an eyelid. “She’s going to be smoked,” said Chris Christie, in a hot mic moment as he announced his withdrawal from the race before Iowa. This seems to be truth that everyone knows and nobody is willing to say out.
The question, then, is when does she do what Ron DeSantis did yesterday: bow to the inevitable and pull out of the race?
There are rumors in political circles that Republican donors are already pulling away from Haley. “This Republican race is a wrap,” one experienced campaign advisor said yesterday. “I think she pulls on Wednesday morning.”
If she doesn’t come within ten points of Trump tomorrow, why would she go on to face a deeper humiliation in South Carolina, her home state? Pundits love to talk about “paths” to victory. But Haley’s campaign is in danger of simply slamming her head repeatedly into a Trump wall. What’s the point of that?
Trump is meant to have the woman problem. In fact, Nikki Haley does. A recent JLP poll puts her on 37 percent among New Hampshire women, compared to 54 percent for Trump. She fares better among men, intriguingly: only four points behind according to one poll.
Haley does beat Trump among undeclared voters, by 59 percent to 34 percent. But given the enthusiasm gap between her effort and Trump’s, it seems highly unlikely that undeclared voters will stop Trump winning tomorrow.
Which leads us to the next question: if she drops out on Wednesday, will she endorse Donald Trump?
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.