Can Haley pull off upset on Trump?


The pivotal primary day in New Hampshire has arrived.

The contest has long wielded the power to make or break presidential candidates, boosting some campaigns and tearing down others. Today, all eyes are on the Granite State’s Republican primary as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tries to keep her candidacy alive against front-running former President Donald Trump.

Haley did start well, winning all six votes in Dixville Notch. But she faces long odds − Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll taken Sunday and Monday showed Trump leading Haley by a whopping 22 points, 60%-38%

On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden’s name won’t technically appear on the ballot, but that doesn’t mean voters can’t support him in the first-in-the-nation primary.

Follow along with the USA TODAY Network’s live coverage as our reporters answer your questions and bring you insights from New Hampshire’s voters and leaders.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 52, attacked Trump’s age while visiting the polls in Hampton with Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday. She said Trump is “mentally fit,” but she said voters need to ask whether they want “two 80-year-olds” in Trump and Biden on the ticket in November. Trump is 77. 

“When you’ve got a country in disarray and a world on fire the way we do,” Haley said, “you need someone at the top of their game that can put in eight years and get things back on track.” 

It’s the latest in a series of shots Haley has taken at Trump’s age. At a rally last week Trump repeatedly appeared to confuse Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drawing a warning to voters from Haley that Trump’s “mental stability” would continue to decline.

− Max Sullivan

Trump has won just 20 of the 1,215 delegates needed to claim the Republican nomination. Yet the primary process could quickly become a forum for politicians eyeing the vice president spot on a Trump ticket. The betting sites are already watching the scramble. Oddschecker lists the top five candidates as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and Haley.

The 2024 election season kicked off with a frost-bitten start as Iowa Republicans headed to their caucus in freezing weather. Trump cruised to a notably early and wide victory, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis narrowly edged out Haley for second place. Now DeSantis is gone and the focus is on New Hampshire, which conducts a primary. But what makes a caucus different from a primary? And how does a primary end up ultimately factoring into the general election?

USA TODAY is answering all your questions about how the country votes and why it matters. All you need to know is here.

Anna Kaufman

The detente between Trump and DeSantis, who dropped out of the race two days ago and endorsed Trump, might not last very long. DeSantis has threatened to veto any effort by Florida lawmakers to have the state bankroll Trump’s legal bills. On the social media site X (formerly Twitter), DeSantis re-posted a Politico story headlined “some Florida Republicans want taxpayers to pay Trump’s legal bills.”

DeSantis commented: “But not the Florida Republican who wields the veto pen…”Trump, who has said nice things about DeSantis since he dropped out of the presidential race on Sunday, has not commented on the potential flap.

David Jackson

The polls say Haley is a long shot, but she got off to a flying start when the six registered voters of Dixville Notch a cast their ballots for her. The resort town with the tiny population historically makes a big splash by opening its polls at midnight, the first place in the nation to vote, count and announce its results in presidential primaries. As usual, the handful of voters were greeted by an overwhelming number of reporters from around the world.

Les Otten, owner of the Balsams Resort that served as the polling location, was excited to cast his ballot.

“It’s what ought to happen in every community in the United States, where there is 100% participation, everybody votes,” Otten said. “None of the six of us can complain about the outcome of the election, because we’ve participated.”

Haley was appreciative, posting on social media “A great start to a great day in New Hampshire. Thank you Dixville Notch!”

After entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a bevy of other GOP White House hopefuls dropped out of the Republican primary, their exits left just three candidates on Tuesday.

Trump, Haley and businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley are still running for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Looking for more information? You can catch up with the USA TODAY Network’s voter guides for everything you need to know about the Republican, Democratic and third-party candidates.

– Marina Pitofsky

The odds aren’t in her favor. Trump led Haley 55% to 36% in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe/NBC-10 tracking poll conducted in the state Jan. 18-19. And DeSantis’ exit from the 2024 primary may bolster Trump’s lead. Nearly 60% of the Florida governor’s likely voters said Trump was their second choice in the poll.

Haley’s campaign, however, is hoping that DeSantis’ exit will give her a boost with undecided anti-Trump voters in these final hours before New Hampshire’s primary.

– Karissa Waddick

Polling times vary by town and city in New Hampshire. Most are open from 7 or 8 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., but some, like Hebron, don’t open until as late as 11 a.m. If you’re a New Hampshire resident, you can check your polling place to find out the exact time your location opens and closes.

– Margie Cullen

New Hampshire’s Republican primary shifted this week when DeSantis dropped out of the GOP race after his loss in the Iowa Caucuses. The Florida governor immediately endorsed Trump, but some of Haley’s supporters in New Hampshire have argued that won’t matter in the Granite State. The former South Carolina governor has long sought to build a broad coalition, sometimes fueled by moderate, anti-Trump Republicans.

The question remains: Will those voters to propel Haley to her first 2024 win – or will Trump quickly claim victory in New Hampshire?

– Karissa Waddick, Marina Pitofsky

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