The first 2024 Republican primary is just over 10 months away, and in nearly every poll, former President Donald Trump is already winning. Earlier in March, a survey conducted by Emerson College Polling showed the former president crushing the entire potential Republican field in New Hampshire. According to the poll, Trump holds a 41-point lead in a potential Republican primary, with 58% support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is at 17%, followed by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu at 7%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at 6% and former Vice President Mike Pence at 4%.
Interestingly, however, in the very same survey, Sununu holds a 64% approval among registered Republican voters. That’s right, Sununu, a very popular governor, cannot convince 10% of GOP voters in his home state of New Hampshire that he should be president. (Although to be fair, the poll's margin of error is +/-3 percentage points, so maybe he could get exactly 10%.)
The first Republican primary is just over 10 months away, and in nearly every poll, former President Donald Trump is winning.
This does not bode well for Sununu’s White House aspirations. But it’s also becoming clear that to beat Trump, there must be a serious effort to change the political landscape. And arguably the first official opportunity to do so is in New Hampshire, because of how the state conducts it primaries.
Simply put, it is time for the center right and principled conservatives to rejoin the Republican Party.
New Hampshire allows for undeclared voters to participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary, whereas voters affiliated with a political party may only vote in that party’s primary. And this is where things get interesting: New Hampshire’s party registration is split almost evenly among Democrats, Republicans and undeclared voters, with undeclared voters currently making up the largest share.
New Hampshire will still be the first-in-the-nation primary for Republicans, while there may not be any Democratic primary authorized by the Democratic National Committee. The DNC recently voted to change the schedule for the 2024 presidential primaries, and New Hampshire will no longer be the election’s first primary (following Iowa’s caucus). This has caused a lot of consternation in the Granite State, since state law actually requires it to hold the first-in-the-nation primary.
DNC makes South Carolina first primary stop of 2024Feb. 4, 202306:43
So while New Hampshire Democratic officials have vowed to fight the DNC decision, it is likely that the Republican presidential primary will be the only game in town. And based on registration numbers, it is possible that there will be about the same amount of independents and Republicans voting. This theoretically would weaken the influence of extreme MAGA Republicans and leave room for an anti-Trump candidate to be successful.
So far, likely or declared GOP candidates have seemed afraid to take on Trump head-on, mostly out of fear of upsetting the MAGA base, but also because they are just scared of him.
Haley, the only other person who has officially announced their candidacy, has certainly tried to avoid any direct criticism. When asked about how she differs from Trump, Haley proclaimed, “I don’t kick sideways.” What does that even mean?
Other potential candidates may be waiting for a true political shift. And perhaps an indictment against the former president could do the trick. But the longer they wait, the stronger Trump becomes.
To be fair, a win in New Hampshire is hardly enough to take down Trump. But it is a start, and perhaps a chance to create a little momentum. In order to truly change the political landscape, a page must be taken out of Trump’s 2016 campaign playbook. Much of Trump’s edge in 2016 was from engaging new and dormant voters in a multi-candidate field.
Republicans need to register likely voters who won’t vote for Trump. And that means targeting conservative-leaning Americans who may have turned their backs on the GOP. I’m talking about former Republicans.
I get why these conservatives left. I wonder every day why I have remained a Republican, when the party remains under the influence of Trump.
Trust me — I get why these conservatives left. I wonder every day why I have remained a Republican, when the party remains under the influence of Trump. But he’s getting weaker. And the more people voting, the more diverse the policy positions will be, and the more work it will take for any candidate to win a party nomination.
The Republican Party may never totally reclaim its past legacy — and frankly, it hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. That probably won’t happen until 2026 or 2028. So this is not an ask to endorse the current Republican Party, but it is a request to once again participate in it.
In 2018, 2020 and 2022, anti-Trumpers screamed from the rooftops about the value of every single vote. In 2024, that will also hold true for the primaries. It is time to meet a candidate halfway and re-register with the Republican Party.