Campaign signs alongside the highway in Concord, New Hampshire on January 18, 2024. The state’s primary is scheduled for January 23, 2024.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

New Hampshire voters head to the polls Tuesday for the first primary election of the 2024 presidential cycle.

But if former President Donald Trump has his way, the kickoff race could effectively mark the end of the road to the Republican nomination.

Following his landslide victory in the Iowa caucuses, Trump and his supporters are looking for a Granite State blowout that will extinguish the campaigns of his two remaining challengers: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.

Polls indicate New Hampshire offers Haley her best chance for a win, while DeSantis, polling a distant third, is already looking ahead to South Carolina.

Regardless of the outcome Tuesday in New Hampshire, political experts say it’s hard to envision either of Trump’s rivals catching up to his overall lead.

“When you say it out loud, you realize it starts to sound like something out of a West Wing fan fiction,” said Chris Galdieri, a political science professor at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Here’s what to know, and what to watch out for:

New Hampshire by the numbers

Here are the figures to know ahead of the primary, as provided by the office of New Hampshire Secretary of State David M. Scanlan.

Number of voting locations: 309

Number of primary election workers: Over 6,000

Number of candidates on the GOP primary ballots: 24

Number of candidates on the Democratic primary ballots: 21 (and Biden isn’t one of them)

Number of registered Republicans: 267,768

Number of registered Democrats: 261,254

Number of registered independents/”Undeclared”: 344,335

Total registered voters: 873,357

Expected Republican turnout: 322,000

Expected Democratic turnout: 88,000

Polling hours: Usually between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but it can vary. State law requires polling locations to open no later than 11 a.m. and close no earlier than 7 p.m.

Trump wants to bury his rivals

Republican presidential candidate former US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on January 17, 2024.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Trump has long treated his GOP primary victory as a foregone conclusion. After scorching his rivals in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, Trump and his supporters are ratcheting up the pressure on them to drop out.

Trump won by a 30-point margin in Iowa, squashing any hopes DeSantis or Haley, who respectively took second and third, had for a jolt of momentum that could boost their chances in New Hampshire.

While Tuesday’s primary result is expected to be narrower, the latest polls of likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters show Trump leading Haley by double digits.

Just as important as the size of that lead, is who will be voting for whom. The surveys show Haley leads Trump among independents — a crucial bloc in the Granite State, where there are more “Undeclared” voters than Republicans or Democrats.

But Trump has a massive advantage among registered Republicans, giving him the overall edge in the state. Trump’s dominance among registered Republican voters will only become more important as the nominating contest moves to redder states later this spring.

For Trump’s supporters, there is only one thing for DeSantis and Haley to do: Get out of the leader’s way.

“I am calling on every other candidate — all of whom have no chance to win — to drop out so we can unify and immediately rally behind President Trump,” House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York wrote on X, formerly Twitter. 

Stefanik is a vocal Trump loyalist who is reportedly a contender to be his running mate.

Other Trump supporters in Congress and conservative media, like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity, are also declaring the race is over.

They have been joined in recent days by a growing number of Trump’s one time Republican primary rivals — Nebraska Gov. Doug Burgum, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina — have all recently endorsed the former president.

Under pressure, Haley needs a win

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at a rally at the Omni Mt. Washington Hotel & Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, U.S. January 16, 2024. 

Faith Ninivaggi | Reuters

Read more CNBC politics coverage

But even a strong second might not be enough to keep Haley’s top donors on board. After Iowa, several of them worried that her campaign would be over if she failed to pull off a win in New Hampshire, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Part of this pessimism is rooted in the political makeup of the states that come after New Hampshire. For example, Haley’s home state of South Carolina will hold its primary on Feb. 3. Known for its deeply conservative Republican electorate, polls in the Palmetto State already show Trump leading Haley there by an even wider margin than he does in New Hampshire.

One thing that could help Haley on Tuesday, experts said, would be a higher than expected turnout, because the boost would likely be driven by independents.

The problem for Haley: Enthusiasm drives turnout, and excitement has been sorely lacking throughout the primary.

“The vibe is definitely downbeat,” Scala said. “The vibe is, we’re all marking time in New Hampshire until this is over.”

DeSantis faces a reckoning

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis makes a campaign stop at LaBelle Winery on Wednesday January 17, 2024 in Derry, NH.

Matt McClain | The Washington Post | Getty Images

What about Biden?

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his economic plan during a visit to Abbotts Creek Community Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., January 18, 2024. 

Nathan Howard | Reuters

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