Let’s take a breather.
Before we get to that, though, let’s run through the final New Hampshire numbers. Donald Trump’s official margin over Nikki Haley settled on exactly 11 points (54.3% to 43.3%), while DDHQ projects that Trump’s lead in the overall delegate race over Haley stands at 32 to 17.
Over in the Democratic beauty contest – no delegates were at stake – Joe Biden’s write-in campaign finished with 63.9%, while Rep. Dean Philips came in second with 19.6%.
Altogether, the combined turnout in both contests was just short of the combined totals of the 2020 primaries, and near as poor as the turnout in bitterly cold Iowa was earlier this month. To get a proper sense of just how excited the electorate was in the Granite State, I compiled the total turnout numbers for both the Democratic and Republican New Hampshire Primaries for every Presidential cycle of the 21st Century.
I also believe that cable news ratings for Election Nights are an effective means of gauging public interest. This method yields a similar result, as while viewership for 2024 is below the highs of 2008, 2016 and 2020, it’s still noticeably ahead of the lows of 2004 and 2012.
South Carolina Democratic Primary Preview
Meanwhile, with Trump seemingly on the verge of securing the Republican nomination, the Biden campaign is fully shifting into general election mode.
On Tuesday night we learned that two top Biden aides, Jen O’Malley-Dillon and Mike Donilon, are leaving the White House and joining the campaign. O’Malley-Dillon is the Deputy White House Chief of Staff and in April 2020 joined the Biden team as Campaign Manager. Donilon – a Senior Advisor to the President – goes way back with Biden, first joining his inner circle in 1981.
These moves sound suspiciously like what Barack Obama urged Biden to do during a meeting last fall, according to a report from Tyler Pager of the Washington Post. Obama’s 2012 campaign was notably detached from both the White House and the DNC, a blueprint Biden appears reluctant to emulate. As a result, the establishment of a way-station Washington office for the Biden team looks like a compromise solution.
Looking ahead, the Biden campaign is aiming to put up an impressive performance in the first official 2024 Democratic contest, Saturday’s South Carolina Primary. The 46th President spent the weekend there campaigning, the culmination of a plan for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to blanket the state leading up to February 3rd.
So just how big of a victory does it need to be for Biden? Well, as far as I can tell, the Palmetto State didn’t hold Democratic Presidential primaries in 2012 and 1996, when Barack Obama and Bill Clinton ran for re-election.
Therefore, we don’t really have any good benchmarks for what Biden’s share of the vote and the overall turnout should be. The 2020 contest is the closest we can get, when Biden won 262,336 out of 539,263 cast (or 48.65%).
Regardless, since Congressman Philips and author Marianne Williamson are both joining Biden on the ballot, this will be the President’s first real electoral test since November 2020.
Haley and Trump in Limbo
As for the Republican contest, Nikki Haley is just trying to hold on until the GOP’s own South Carolina primary on February 24th.
Haley’s facing such an uphill battle because former President Trump is actively warning donors that he’ll shun anyone who continues to give her contributions. Nevertheless, the Haley campaign announced that they received $2.6 million in the forty-eight hours after New Hampshire. On top of that, the Koch network declared that they’re still sticking by her.
As for Nevada, the Silver State still matters, just not so much in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary. The reason for this is that Nevada’s GOP leaders arranged for a caucus process that would favor Trump, which the rest of the candidates then abandoned for a primary that’s worth no delegates. As a result, Trump and Haley won’t compete against each other again until the Virgin Islands primary on February 8th.
Looking Ahead to the Special Election in New York’s 3rd
Ultimately, February’s most consequential election may not be a Presidential primary at all. On Feb. 13th, over on Long Island in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, we’ve got a special election to fill the seat left by expelled former Rep. George Santos.
The Democratic nominee in this contest is Tom Suozzi, who first won this seat back in 2016 before leaving to run for Governor in 2022. After finishing a disappointing third in that 2022 Democratic primary – and seeing Santos succeed him and become a national punchline – Suozzi threw his hat back into the ring.
Over on the Republican side, the GOP nominated Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip.
Our sister site Elections Daily, as well as all the other political prognosticators, are rating this race as a toss-up. So far the sole independent survey of this contest found Suozzi ahead by 3 points, 45-42, although that’s within the margin of error.
Both candidates will participate in one televised debate on February 8th, the Thursday before Election Day.
NY-3 is a D+2 district, where in 2020 Joe Biden outperformed Donald Trump 54% to 44%. It’s also one of the four Empire State districts that Democrats lost in the 2022 midterms. Therefore, a Suozzi victory would be welcomed as a sign that New York Democrats, and even President Biden, are back on track ahead of an election that will decide control of the White House as well as the the House of Representatives.
Conversely, a Pilip win will buoy Republican hopes that a message focused on crime and immigration can help them win back the suburbs, and justify their belief that Biden is a drag on the Democratic ticket.
If Democrats do indeed flip this seat, they’ll only need to add four more seats in November to recapture the majority. Finally, thanks to the two other House Republican vacancies (from the resignations of Kevin McCarthy and Bill Johnson), a defeat here would whittle the GOP majority down to just 219-214.
Make sure to follow all these February election results here at Decision Desk HQ, starting with Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic Primary.