Former President Donald Trump is heading for an easy victory in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, according to two polls taken after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out of the Republican presidential race.
Trump, 77, faces a single major GOP competitor, former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who trails badly in the latest surveys.
The former president has 57% support to 38% for Haley, 52, according to fresh Suffolk University/NBC10 Boston/Boston Globe tracking poll data from 500 voters surveyed over the weekend.
Trump has an even larger lead, with 62% backing to Haley’s 35%, in an InsiderAdvantage poll of 850 likely voters conducted Sunday.
The results suggest an early end to the competitive phase of the party primaries — with Trump winning the Iowa caucuses last week by almost a 30-point margin and expected to trounce Haley in next month’s South Carolina primary, if she even remains in the race that long.
New Hampshire has an open primary system, meaning that independent voters are able to cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican race — offering Haley, who has the backing of the Granite State’s GOP governor, Chris Sununu, one of her best shots at halting Trump’s march to the nomination.
DeSantis, who placed a distant second in Iowa, announced Sunday afternoon he was dropping out and endorsing Trump as polls showed him averaging single-digit support in New Hampshire.
The Florida governor, 45, for much of the campaign had been seen as Trump’s top rival with the twice-impeached ex-president facing a quartet of criminal cases — but the DeSantis campaign was marred by awkward moments, including a glitch-filled launch on Twitter Spaces and allegations by footwear experts that he wore lifts in his boots to make himself appear taller.
Trump said after receiving DeSantis’ endorsement that he would retire his “DeSanctimonious” nickname for the Sunshine State governor, whom Trump brutally mocked throughout the contest after bestowing similarly unforgettable sobriquets on his 2016 GOP rivals.
It’s unclear what effect the suddenly less-competitive Republican race in New Hampshire will have on the state’s Democratic primary. President Biden, who is seeking re-election, isn’t on the ballot due to his agreement with the Democratic National Committee’s insistence that the state give up its first-in-the-nation status in favor of South Carolina.
Biden supporters are running a write-in campaign backed by state Democratic heavyweights to prevent an embarrassing upset by long-shot candidates such as self-help author Marianne Williamson, retiring Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and satirist Vermin Supreme.