Watch Nidhi Razdan: Why Trump’s victory in New Hampshire matters Video Credit: Gulf News

The race for the Republican Presidential race in the US is all but over. With his win over Nikki Haley in the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump has further strengthened his hold on the party and barring any shock legal setbacks over the next few months, it looks like a Trump vs Biden contest is on the cards this November.

If there was one state Haley had a shot at, it was New Hampshire. With a large number of more moderate, educated and independent voters who can take part in the election, Haley was in a close fight with Trump in several polls leading up to the big day. But it wasn’t enough.

The former Governor is being brave for now, saying she won’t give up yet and will be there in the next big primary which is in her home state, South Carolina, on February 24.

But many will ask — if Haley couldn’t win among more moderate voters in New Hampshire, what hope does she have against Trump in a more conservative state like South Carolina?

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Handing the baton to Trump

Polls there already show Trump with a huge lead. He is however more than unhappy that Haley has not quit the race yet. A furious Trump called her an “impostor” after winning New Hampshire, visibly irritated that Haley is fighting on.

He told Fox News “if she doesn’t drop out, we have to waste money instead of spending it on Biden, which is our focus”. There will be growing pressure on Haley to drop out sooner than later. It is only a matter of time before Haley hands the baton to Trump. Incidentally, Trump has become the first Republican to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire since 1976.

The numbers from New Hampshire are very telling. Trump has very clearly made his Republican base believe that Biden “stole” the 2020 election. A CNN exit poll found that 80% of Trump voters believed Biden did not win the 2020 election legitimately.

The 91 criminal cases that he faces are clearly not hampering his campaign, at least among his supporters, in fact they are helping him feed into this frenzy that he has been wronged and that the cases are the result of political vendetta.

The fact that he was impeached twice as President does’t seem to matter. His hold over the Republican Party is stronger than ever while the old guard has been sidelined completely. However, there are still some warning signs for Trump even if he does become the Republican nominee.

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Road ahead for Trump

CNN’s Exit Poll analysis shows that Haley did much better than Trump among moderate Republican voters and with 67% of the primary electorate who oppose a ban on abortion. Joe Biden has made abortion rights a key theme of his campaign already.

An exit poll by Edison Research showed that 42% of voters who participated in the Republican primary said Trump would not be fit to serve if convicted in court. Reuters reports that around 35% of voters in New Hampshire’s primary were moderates or liberals — the kind of voter who will be critical in the general election. Only one in five of these voters picked Trump, with about three quarters voting for Haley.

This is why it is important for the Biden campaign to target these voters. Especially the more educated ones. Data shows that Nikki Haley had far more support among college graduates. And women college graduates are not big fans of Trump. Issues like abortion rights could play well for Biden in that camp.

For Trump, issues like immigration will resonate well. Reports suggest the Biden camp is already preparing for a contest with Trump. With criminal cases and legal challenges to his candidacy and clear support in the Republican camp, Trump road ahead will not be smooth but he is not one to give up.

This election may be the most polarised one yet.