As President Joe Biden closes his presidency with little popularity, Republican Donald Trump has begun what he hopes will be his path back to the White House by comfortably winning the primaries in the first two states, Iowa and New Hampshire.
In the conservative and predominantly white state of Iowa, where primaries are held in the form of caucus (a type of assembly where the votes are collected in a somewhat “informal” way), the former president swept: he won 98 of the 99 counties in the state, and in the only one he lost, he did it by a yes vote. , according to the provisional count.
The Iowa elections took place in the context of very low participation due to the severe cold wave that hit the country, with temperatures below -20° recorded on voting day. Trump called on his followers to attend the election “even if they die trying.”
Thus, the former president got 51% of the votes, making a difference of more than 30 points compared to the disappointing performance of the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who left the Republican race a few hours after it was announced. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikky Haley, was the same last, getting 19.1%.
After a landslide victory in Iowa, Trump publicly asked Haley to withdraw from the primary, paving the way for her Republican Party nomination. However, Haley preferred to compete, and although Trump also won comfortably in New Hampshire (54% against Haley’s 43%), it was not the overwhelming victory expected by the polls or Trumpism itself.
At this start, it is likely that Donald Trump will finally become the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States, but a piece of information from the last primaries in New Hampshire raises the alarm of Trumpism: the semi-open primaries (in which internal voters who consider themselves “independent” also participate) also act as a method for the universe of voters who are not loyal to one party or the other but whose vote changes from election to election. This is a part of society that will always be decisive in the presidential election.
At this point, what has so far been a disastrous start for Trump has been spoiled, because although he comfortably won the Republican electorate in New Hampshire (65% against Haley’s 29%), he lost among independents, whose voters participated in the internal, who clearly won Haley with 60% of the votes compared to 33% for Trump.
This data has a first-order correlation beyond the Republican primary. It is true that after these good numbers of independents, Haley decided to stay in the race, at least until the primaries in South Carolina, his home state, on February 24, where he dreams of achieving his first victory. Before that were the primaries in very conservative Nevada, where a Trump victory was discounted. However, no matter what happens in South Carolina, it is unlikely that Haley will force Trump to appear all set to win the presidential nomination.
The greatest importance of this Trump defeat among independents lies not so much in the poor prospects for Haley but for the Democrats themselves, who see Trump’s poor performance as an important fact that can tilt the election in their favor in November.
New Hampshire highlights the assumption on which Democrats (almost all) base their hopes: that the rejection of Trump by independent and “centrist” voters plays in favor of the current ruling party in a decisive way. If there is a chance for Biden to be re-elected today, it will not be because of the performance of his government but because he will surely face Donald Trump.
To this day, Trump continues to claim the coup action carried out by his followers (prompted by himself) at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. At the same time, a large part of society, These events are still very much in the political consciousness and generate widespread rejection, even in sectors of the establishment.
Of course, not everything is so simple for the Democrats, who are in their own labyrinth. On the one hand, the bad administration of Biden is the main obstacle for the ruling party to stay in power. But also because of the Democrats’ own ranks, doubts are growing about Biden’s ability not only to be a competitive candidate to win the election but even to govern for another four years.