Haley Mary

Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Peter Hamby
November 20, 2023

A new CNN poll of New Hampshire Republicans dropped last week, and it was the first one to come along in a very, very long time that made me stop and wonder: Could Donald Trump actually lose this thing? 

The poll showed Nikki Haley—the buzzy G.O.P. candidate du jour in media and donor circles—climbing into a sturdy second place in New Hampshire following her punchy debate performances and the ongoing Ron DeSantis purgatory. The former South Carolina governor—also Trump’s onetime ambassador to the United Nations—is now at 20 percent in the Granite State. I was watching CNN last week when they released the poll, as my old pal David Chalian excitedly broke down the crosstabs on air. “Nikki Haley is up eight percentage points since September,” he said. “That is the real movement in this poll.”

Eight points in two months, baby! It’s a modest and possibly futile shift, the kind of polling bump that’s received way too much attention all year from those of us in the media desperately looking for any signs of life from Trump’s junior varsity Republican opponents. Haley’s rise in New Hampshire proves that she’s got some momentum, sure, but it still puts Haley a full 22 points behind Trump, who is sitting pretty at 42 percent in New Hampshire. And that’s only a subplot to Trump’s 30-point lead in Iowa and his 44-point national lead. For the Republican Party, Trump is a de facto incumbent president.