Tuesday, January 23, 2024

2024 has been a weird cycle in New Hampshire ...and more

Leading the day at FHQ...

Happy New Hampshire primary day!

It has been a weird cycle in the Granite state. 

The Democratic primary there today will happen as it always does, but it will not count toward determining the outcome of the nomination after the national party reshuffled its early primary calendar for 2024. [There will be New Hampshire delegates -- reduced by half -- but they cannot be allocated based on the results of an unsanctioned primary.] But all the chatter of bumping the primary and the resulting write-in effort on President Biden's behalf in New Hampshire will likely garner a few seconds more attention than the primary otherwise would in an incumbent cycle for Democrats. And that is to say, not much.

On the Republican side, well, this looks like it. If the last polls, especially the tracker in the field after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign, are taken as the final results or anything near them, then Donald Trump is in for another romp. A 60-38 win would translate to a 14-8 delegate win for Trump over former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. And that, not the net delegate gap, per se, but the 3:2 loss in a state that is supposed to be "good" for the former UN ambassador, would make it a little easier to bow out with her home state up next. Haley is not on the ballot in Nevada, so South Carolina would be next. And even in the event of a closer than expected loss, Haley would be staring down the prospect of getting whipped at home for a month and a day. In other words, she may have made it out of New Hampshire with a win relative to expectations, but that would not necessarily carry her all the way to and through South Carolina. The winnowing pressures would have grown deafening in that time.

As FHQ said before Haley's third in Iowa took some of the [limited] air out of her sails, "Haley may or may not become a disruptive factor in her bid for the presidential nomination, but if she does, it is more likely to be in the form of a speed bump rather than a total roadblock."

But that it came down to two viable Republicans by New Hampshire -- just the second contest -- is the weirder thing for the Republican contest relative to past cycles. It is one thing to have local Granite staters politically plugged into the politics of it all complain in the year before the primary about candidates not showing up as much as they used to, but it is quite another for folks on the ground in New Hampshire to be talking about how dead things are in the 24 hours leading up the voting. 

New Hampshire typically does at least some of the winnowing -- and the primary may yet in a limited capacity for 2024 -- but most of the winnowing took place in the invisible primary (and after Iowa) before New Hampshire. And a lot of this is it is just the nature of the cycle. After all, there is an incumbent president running on one side and a former president running on the other (and one of them is not even on the ballot in the Granite state). 

Again, it has been a weird cycle. But it is not clear that some of the same forces will not return to New Hampshire for 2028. It remains to be seen if the Democratic National Committee wants to take another shot at shunting New Hampshire to a different slot on the calendar, but the nationalization of the process in the invisible primary preceding New Hampshire will continue to be a factor that likely detracts from the way the New Hampshire primary "used to be."

Over at FHQ Plus... 
I pushed back on what has seemingly become a dominant narrative in how the delegate rules came together on the Republican side for 2024. There has been way too much Trump was heavy-handed in forcing state parties to adopt favorable rules and not nearly enough examination of the actual rules. 

If anything the delegate rules are marginally less favorable to Trump in 2024 than they were in 2020. 

That does not mean that they are not well suited to the former president. Far from it! But there very simply was not much improving Team Trump could have done in 2023. They did some incremental work, but most of it was working the phone lines to defend what they established for the 2020 cycle. That is the story of the Republican rules for 2024.


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