Even though Donald Trump has a 20-point lead in New Hampshire, he and his staff have wasted no time putting down any challenger they perceive as gaining ground.
Their latest advertisement in New Hampshire, which attacks Nikki Haley on the subject of immigration, put that on display this week.
It demonstrated how far Haley had come in the race. Yet, it also revealed a great deal about Trump.
Since he avoided the campaign’s nuts and bolts on his first two attempts for the presidency, he is taking no chances this time around.
However, a distinct challenge is already becoming apparent to Trump and his associates. Since Trump himself has established such high expectations for a romp, they will not be met. As we approach the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, Haley can damage Trump without winning either state. Just by bouncing her high bar off of his, she can deal harm.
“Listen, I’m 70 points up here, I’m 60 points up here,” Trump says while campaigning. “He’s setting this up, and this has always been his M.O. — winning, of inevitability,” said Republican strategist Matthew Bartlett, who is unaffiliated in the race but was in New Hampshire watching Haley on Wednesday when news of the new commercial came down. When it comes to politics, that is a really dangerous thing.
The likelihood of anyone—including former South Carolina governor Haley or Florida governor Ron DeSantis—obstructing Trump’s nomination is extremely low. Over 60% of Republicans are favouring the former president in the GOP primary, and he has a commanding lead in every early nominating state. Rather than a campaign, the primary has felt more like a sleepwalk at times.
Attack ads airing during political campaigns are never done without a cause. For starters, there’s the financial investment required to air them, and there’s also the possibility that they might boost the profile of the frontrunner whose campaign the frontrunner is trying to denigrate.
Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman warned that “voters will smell fear.”
A clue that they’re seeing figures that make them nervous, he added of the commercial.
People close to Trump don’t appear to be anxious. Their operation has been considerably more organised and competent than their previous efforts. It has required a lot of groundwork, including getting endorsements, coordinating with state party officials, and establishing a strong delegate organisation. It has also required on the offensive despite having a large advantage in the polls. Trump allies spent millions attacking DeSantis before the Haley commercials. Additionally, Haley’s previous stances on a petrol tax have been the target of an ad by the pro-Trump super PAC MAGA Inc., which has been extensively funding its campaign in New Hampshire.
Republicans’ seasoned strategist Scott Reed characterised the group as “doing what needs to be done” using professional language. “Doing nothing would be completely careless. Indeed, he has a commanding lead and is rapidly approaching the nomination. However, the new campaign team has proven over the past year or two that they are not content to sit on their hands but are instead filling the hole with purposeful, intelligent actions.
When asked if Haley poses a danger, he responded, “No, I don’t think so at all.”
However, as the election draws near, it is evident that the expectations are shifting. At a rally in Durham, New Hampshire, just last month, Trump made fun of the concept that Haley might even get support.
When asked about the rise, Trump responded, “We’ll be about anywhere from 50 to 60 to 70 points above.”
Trump faces a potential threat in the event of a surge, which would not necessarily result in Haley surpassing him but would bring about closer-than-expected results in Iowa and New Hampshire.
In evangelical-heavy Iowa, Trump’s victory is practically guaranteed. There will be tremendous pressure on Florida governor Ron DeSantis to drop out of the race if Haley manages to place second there, surpassing the weakening DeSantis. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is not even in the race in Iowa but is in third place in New Hampshire, may also face more pressure to withdraw from the race if DeSantis does. A state committee member for Christie recently switched allegiances to Haley, while the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, who has backed Haley, has criticised Christie’s campaign, calling it a “dead end.”
In New Hampshire, the combined support of Christie and DeSantis amounts to approximately 20% of the GOP vote. It is possible that Trump may face opposition from those voters if they were to become active and if Haley were to attract a sizable portion of them.
There are a lot of “ifs” in that. Plus, what if Trump does experience an early defeat?
He had an unsuccessful attempt at a do-over in 2016, after losing the Iowa caucuses to Ted Cruz of Texas. He had accused Cruz of cheating. After that, he cruised to the Republican nomination and won New Hampshire. That kind of early gaffe is definitely out of the question for Trump this time around. The commercial he started running ended by drawing a comparison between “Haley’s weakness” and “Trump’s strength,” which is another reason he wants to bring Haley crashing down to earth.
It is probable that Trump will need to get ready for a general election. Despite his seeming dominance in the GOP primary, the former president has a long history of losing, beginning with the 2018 elections and continuing through 2020 with the presidency and 2022 with the failure of his selected candidates.
According to Bartlett, a former Trump administration appointee who stepped down following the incident at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, “It’s possible Joe Biden wins the New Hampshire primary with a larger margin than Donald Trump, and Joe Biden’s not even on the ballot.” He made the statement after the violence.
If nothing else, Haley would have an opening and an excuse to pick on her right now.
Bartlett spoke about the Trump campaign, saying, “These folks know what they’re doing… Even though [Trump] is completely out of control, his campaign appears to be in control of this situation.