The Wash
Political rally in New Hampshire

Can Haley make her mark?

Despite unfavorable odds, Nikki Haley and her supporters persist.

By Natasha LaChac  

 MANCHESTER, N.H. — Minutes after the polls closed in New Hampshire, the Associated Press called the race for former president Donald Trump. His sole remaining opponent, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, was undeterred. 

 “Thank you for the love, New Hampshire. We are going home to South Carolina!” Haley said in a speech after the election, echoing her claims leading up to the primary that she would not drop out of the race even if she lost in New Hampshire.  

 Haley has been the underdog since the Iowa caucuses, where she lost to Trump by a 30-point margin. She stayed in the race while the two remaining Republican challengers, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, dropped out. Haley continued to poll lower than Trump and eventually lost to him in New Hampshire by an 11-point margin. 

 Haley persists against the odds, as the Republican National Committee is considering a resolution to declare Trump the presumptive nominee. In New Hampshire, however, a state that prides itself on holding the first primary in the nation, her supporters are adamant that she stands a chance. 

 Haley charmed some voters with traditional New Hampshire retail politics and face-to-face campaigning. She and Gov. Chris Sununu tour local breweries, restaurants and businesses, pouring beers and shaking hands with voters.

Republican presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley with New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu.
Republican presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley was at a retail politics event at a local brewery with New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. (Natasha LaChac/The Wash)

 The morning of the election, Nicholas Bridle braved the cold in front of Winnacunnet High School, bearing a “Nikki Haley for president” sign.  

 “What I really appreciate about candidate Haley is that she’s actually making an effort to go around and do that retail politics, talk to the people of New Hampshire. It’s one of the great things about the primary here,” Bridle said.  

 “In my opinion, she’s not an underdog campaign,” he added. “I’m a volunteer. I’m here on my own accord. I had the day off from work today, and I was like, I’m going to hold down signs for my candidate and support her because I knew it was going to be a very contested race.” 

 The real allure of Haley is what supporters say she represents: change. The public is unhappy with the likely Biden versus Trump rematch in the 2024 election. As the only viable challenger to the two presumptive nominees in either party, Haley excites voters. 

 Jennifer Nassour, the northeast regional chair of Women for Nikki, has been volunteering on campaigns since she was 19. Nassour said that in that time, she’d “only ever seen people this excited about two candidates,” Scott Brown, who replaced the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2010, and Haley.  

 Renee McBride-Rogers and Tyler Baker are both young New Hampshire voters; this will be her first time voting for McBride-Rogers. They attended a Haley rally on Jan. 21 and left feeling excited to vote for her. 

 “Donald Trump and Joe Biden, they’re both saying: Here’s all the problems I’m having right now, here’s all the stuff, but it’s not true,” said Baker. “But she’s actually focusing on being a politician and what she wants to do for us.” 

 Baker is “100 percent” sold on Haley. McBride-Rogers agreed, praising Haley for her defense of free speech and composure after a climate protester interrupted the rally. 

 “Definitely, for me, it’s her focusing on the future, whereas the people who are against her are focusing on the past,” said McBride-Rogers. “I want change, and I believe Nikki Haley is that change.” 

The Wash Staff

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