There is good news and bad news for Donald Trump from New Hampshire Journal readers as he prepares to file for the First in the Nation primary:
Politically active Republicans who read the NHJ newsletter believe he is definitely or likely to win the First in the Nation primary. But only about one-third said they believe he can win the general election next November.
Trump is in New Hampshire on Monday to officially file his paperwork to appear on the primary ballot. And while this anonymous survey isn’t a poll or scientific sample, the 300 or so readers who responded to the survey Sunday reflect the views of Granite State Republicans who closely follow political news.
The results reflect the growing divide between rank-and-file Republican voters, who believe Trump is a strong general election candidate; and GOP activists and operatives, who see a Trump nomination as a high-risk move — if not a near-certain disaster — for the Republican Party.
Nearly all the readers who chose to respond (93 percent) said they regularly vote in Republican primaries. Nearly half (49 percent) voted for Trump in the 2016 GOP primary, while 38 percent voted for a different Republican. (The rest didn’t vote in the 2016 primary).
While 67 percent of readers said Trump is definitely (27 percent) or likely (40 percent) to win the New Hampshire primary, 21 percent see an upset ahead and predict he will lose. Another 13 percent or so describe the race as “wide open.”
And those readers overwhelmingly view Trump as having been a good president, though not perfect. A solid 42 percent say Trump was a “great president,” and another 31 percent say he was a “good president” but bad for the GOP brand.
Just 14 percent say Trump was a “terrible president and a disaster for Republicans.”
That is what New Hampshire GOP strategist Michael Dennehy is hearing from voters. “The vibe I get is pretty consistent: Most people are fine with Trump winning the primary.”
But when it comes to winning back the White House, only one-third believe Trump is a general election winner. A quarter say that while they are willing to support Trump, they believe he would lose the general election.
And a stunning 44 percent said they won’t vote for Trump and he will lose.
That loss would be particularly painful for Granite State Republicans, the readers say.
Asked what having Trump at the top of the ticket next year would mean for NHGOP candidates running for governor, State House, etc., more than half (54 percent) predicted a “blue wave” that would “swamp” local Republicans. Just 25 percent said Trump would bring a “red wave” and help local Republicans win.
Polls of New Hampshire GOP primary voters continue to show Trump with a 30-point lead over his closest rivals, former Gov. Nikki Haley and Gov. Ron DeSantis. Even a NHJournal/coefficient poll of swing voters earlier this month found Trump leading — though narrowly — among Granite Staters who have voted in both GOP and Democratic primaries in recent years and plan to take a Republican ballot in 2024. Perhaps not surprisingly, former Gov. Chris Christie, who has urged Democrats to change their registration and vote in the Republican primary, was the close second in that poll.
But among NHJournal readers, Trump and Haley are essentially tied at 30 percent, with DeSantis at 24 percent. Christie is backed by just four percent of the respondents.
Respondents offered their own comments on the current state of the race, and many Trump supporters shared sentiments like this:
“Trump is the only candidate that has the b*lls to take on the establishment swamp and beat them into submission. He may, at times, be crass and self-centered, but he is the man for these very troubled times. We are on the brink of another world war and need proven leadership. Trump will provide it!”
Trump opponents were just as apocalyptic about the party renominating the former president.
“It’s insane to me how many NH GOP voters excuse Trump for the same things against which they rail vis-à-vis other politicians (budgets, crony capitalism, soft on crime, etc). They are in a cult. That being said, Trump has a 32-35 percent ceiling (cult) in the primary.” wrote one reader.
Veteran New Hampshire GOP strategist Dave Carney said there are far too many potential plot twists for anyone to predict the outcome of the 2024 general election.
“Who knows how bad the economy will be next November, or how screwed up Congress may be or for how long,” Carney said. “What is in store for the U.S. in the Middle East, China, or Europe? And what other crisis is around the corner?
But the primary, he added, is over. “At the pace of the race and with this lineup of candidates, Trump will win New Hampshire.”
Some readers gave their analysis of the political consequences of a Trump nomination.
“The Dems’ midterm strategy will work here as well: promote the crazy Trumper GOP candidate (Trump himself in this case), and the Dems win the general election because most non-Republicans won’t vote for crazy,” one respondent wrote.
On the other hand, several Trump supporters said if Trump isn’t on the ballot, the Republican Party will suffer the consequences.
“I have seen all of the other candidates, and none of them have the experience or power that President Trump has. He has pure intention, and the others are questionable, in my opinion. It is possible they may be great candidates for future elections, but MAGA supporters will not vote for another [candidate]. It is Trump’s time.”
Not everyone agrees.
“Trump needlessly shoots himself in the foot too much, and while I know his legal problems are a witchhunt, I’m also sick of defending his stupidity. I want a grown-up this time.”