Trump's big win in Iowa puts fresh pressure on Haley, DeSantis

CONCORD, NH (AP) — After Donald Trump's feat Victory in the Iowa caucusesNew Hampshire voters now have a chance to decide how the Republican race will play out. dominates his party.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis face mounting pressure to improve their far-reaching results in caucuses that begin Monday. 2024 President Voting. They have a week's pace Starting next Tuesday in New HampshireElectors pride themselves on their independent continuity as longtime patrons of the nation's first Republican presidential primary.

Trump, DeSantis and Haley each plan New Hampshire stops on Tuesday. Trump went to New York first To appear in civil defamation proceedings From a columnist's claims he sexually assaulted her. DeSantis made a stop in Haley's home state of South Carolina before heading to New Hampshire.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor, took direct aim at New Hampshire's reputation for independence on Tuesday, launching a statewide television ad attacking both Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden.

The ad calls them “the two most disliked politicians in America,” portraying the 81-year-old president and 77-year-old former president together as “confused, negativity and consumed by past grievances.”

In South Carolina, DeSantis rejected Haley's attempt to frame the campaign as a battle between her and Trump. Addressing a few hundred people in Greenville, DeSantis criticized Haley's performance as governor. His Florida record, he argued, gave him more support from Iowa conservatives, adding that Haley “depends on Democrats to change their record.”

Granted, Haley was trying to appeal to both moderates turned off by Trump and conservatives and those who still like the former president but are open to someone else. This approach helped Haley win an Iowa county — Johnson — that is the state's most Democratic district and includes the liberal college town of Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa. Trump won Iowa's other 98 counties. DeSantis, who bills himself as a Trumpian conservative, won no precincts outright.

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Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, the GOP primary is open only to registered Republicans and registered voters without party affiliation, a group that makes up 40% of the electorate. Democrats cannot participate. The deadline to change party registration was in October, although new voters could register at the polls on Tuesday.

As for Trump, DeSantis acknowledged the former president's advantage, calling him “basically an incumbent,” while trying to downplay his performance in Iowa.

“Half the people wanted someone else,” DeSantis said. Trump, in fact, stood at 51% with 99% of the votes counted, far ahead of DeSantis' 21.2% and Haley's 19.1%.

Meanwhile, Trump's enthusiasm was on display in Atkinson, New Hampshire, where voters lined up outside a country club in snow and sleet Tuesday afternoon, hours before the former president held his first rally.

Dante Scala, a University of New Hampshire political expert, said Haley and DeSantis face unique challenges.

DeSantis is “out of sight and out of mind” for most New Hampshire voters, the professor said, given how much time he's spent in Iowa. Now DeSantis has the groundwork to reintroduce himself, and even though he finished second in the caucus, Scala said he's proving to be a factor.

Haley, who prioritized New Hampshire as her home state's primary springboard, must take the next step against Trump.

“The day after the Iowa caucuses, there's a sense of inevitability around Donald Trump,” Scala said. “What Nikki Haley needs to do in the next seven days is drill a sense of inevitability not just among Trump voters, but among her own voters.”

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Reflecting those stakes, Haley on Tuesday urged Trump to skip previous events throughout the early primary campaign and join her on the stage in New Hampshire on Thursday.

“He has nowhere to hide,” he said in a statement, adding that he would participate only if Trump was present. Trump said he would debate Biden in a general election, and opened the door to a primary debate only if a GOP challenger is realistically close to him in the polls. Some polls taken in New Hampshire before the Iowa caucuses suggest Haley is significantly closer to Trump than she finished in Iowa.

ABC News, the host of the debate, responded on Tuesday Event cancellation When it became clear that only DeSantis would participate.

Haley and DeSantis' performances coming out of Iowa reflect their support in the caucuses.

Haley was the front-runner among anti-Trump Republicans in Iowa, including those who believe the former president did something illegal in one of the pending criminal cases against him, according to AP VoteCast data that surveyed more than 1,500 caucus participants. He was also the top choice for those who voted for Biden in the 2020 election.

Overall, less than half of his supporters in Iowa said they voted for Trump in 2020, while the rest supported Biden, said they would support a third-party candidate, or stayed home.

DeSantis, meanwhile, did well among caucuses who were disaffected with Trump but said they would vote for him in the general election. For either Haley or DeSantis, most Iowa caucusgoers say they would be dissatisfied with Trump as their party's nominee. But unlike DeSantis' supporters, two-thirds of Haley's caucuses say they won't vote for Trump in the general election.

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Still, catching Trump in New Hampshire will require a higher turnout among anti-Trump voters or convincing more sympathetic voters to switch allegiances.

Once staunchly Republican, New Hampshire has become a truly two-party state over the past few decades, with a penchant for electing one party for governor and the other for members of Congress. The state currently has an all-Democratic congressional delegation, but a Republican governor and a GOP-controlled legislature.

Trump won the 2016 and 2020 GOP primaries here, but lost the state in the general election both years.

If there is an opening for DeSantis and Haley, it may be predicated on Trump's weakness in the Iowa suburbs, where he received only about a third of the vote. Iowa's suburbs are more educated and less evangelical than the rural and small-town population of the Trump-dominated state. New Hampshire's Republican electorate mirrors Iowa's suburban population as a whole.

However, even though Trump trailed in the Iowa suburbs, he was slightly ahead of both DeSantis and Haley in those areas, according to AP VoteCast.

___ Barrow Report from Atlanta. Collins reported from Greenville, South Carolina. AP Public Opinion Research Director Emily Swanson in Washington and Michelle L. Price contributed.

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