> Election Insights

2024 New Hampshire Primary Analysis

Michael Sistak

Director, Advocacy & Political Management

photo credit: Marta Wave | Pexels

Both President Biden and former President Donald Trump showed their strengths within their respective party in the New Hampshire primary. With the GOP primary a two-person contest between former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Trump, Trump easily cruised to an 11-point victory.

On the Democratic side, the New Hampshire primary awarded no delegates, which was a punishment from the Democratic National Committee for defying the party’s desire to make South Carolina the first contest this year. As a result, President Biden’s name did not appear on the ballot, leading many in the party to worry about backlash against Biden with Democrats voting for the quixotic campaigns of Marianne Williamson or Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips. However, New Hampshire Democratic officials coordinated a write-in campaign for Biden, handing him the state with over 65% of the vote, 45 points more than Phillips, his closest competitor.

Though Biden and Trump are in command, warning signs were still revealed for both candidates.

Of the primary voters, 50% of whom were registered Republicans, Trump carried them by 75% to Haley’s 25%. While Haley won self-identified independents with 58%, such a low backing from party loyalists does not give her many opportunities to challenge Trump long-term, especially as many upcoming states have closed primaries, where no independents will have the opportunity to vote.

Even with his dominance among registered Republicans, Trump faces the same challenges with self-described moderates and independents that he has had since the 2020 election.

Moderates made up 28% of the vote in the primary, and they broke overwhelming for Haley, 72%-25%. Representing 44% of voters, independents went strongly for Haley, 58-39%. Among college-educated voters, Trump still faces an uphill climb as they made up nearly half of the New Hampshire primary electorate and broke decisively for Haley, 56%-42%.

Though the results of New Hampshire showed that Biden still has plenty of support from the Democratic Party, there are red flags that New Hampshire revealed for the president among the general electorate.

An overwhelming 79% of New Hampshire voters expressed either dissatisfaction or anger about the way things are going in the United States. On the economy, almost as many voters, 74%, feel the economy is in bad shape. Granted, this was an exit poll for a Republican primary, so the results may be a little skewed. However, when 44% of the respondents were independents in a state that hasn’t voted Republican for president since 2000, it shows that as the incumbent in the White House, Joe Biden has to make up a lot of ground with voters who haven’t felt great about the state of the union or the economy.

While the economy was the 37% plurality top issue among voters in New Hampshire, immigration was a close second at 30%. With a high share of voters being independents, the results show that it’s not an issue among Republicans alone. Biden will have to thread a needle on taking immigration and border security concerns seriously while not alienating progressive voters in his party who typically find Trump’s positions on immigration to be too restrictive.