The first primary election of the season is happening this week in New Hampshire.
Former President Donald Trump’s Republican front-runner status will be tested Tuesday in the more moderate state, even after winning the 2016 primary there by a comfortable margin.
Voters will give an early indication if one of his competitors, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, really is the main alternative to a Trump-Biden rematch as she’s been claiming on the campaign trail.
If Trump's rivals can't beat him in New Hampshire, they may not be able to stop him anywhere else.
Nikki Haley’s performance
States with early contests play a major role in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting states outside the first five.
For Republicans, New Hampshire is number two. But more on that below.
Coming out of a third-place defeat in Iowa, two losses in a row would be hard for Nikki Haley to recover from. After New Hampshire, the next primary is in her home state of South Carolina.
Eyes will be on how she performs in New Hampshire’s more Democratic-friendly areas, which is where she performed best in Iowa. New Hampshire also has a considerably more moderate electorate than the one that delivered Trump a big win.
Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign on Sunday.
Why isn’t Biden on the New Hampshire primary ballot?
On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden won’t appear on the ballot since the contest violates the new national party rules he pushed for.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) reordered its presidential primaries to give South Carolina the leadoff spot in a move to empower Black and other minority voters.
Meanwhile, supporters in New Hampshire have mounted a write-in campaign on his behalf. The Biden campaign has not endorsed the effort.
Two Democratic candidates will be on New Hampshire’s primary ballot – Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson.
A delay is expected in declaring the Democratic party winner as Biden’s share of write-in votes is tabulated.
Do New Hampshire’s Democratic primary results matter?
Campaign signs for Republican presidential candidates former President Donald Trump and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley stand next to a sign asking voters to write in President Joe Biden in next Tuesdays primary election on January 19, 2024 in Loudo
Normally, New Hampshire’s vote would determine how the state’s 23 delegates would be allocated to the various Democratic candidates, but not this time.
None of the state’s delegates will count for anything this summer at the DNC’s convention because the committee, which has the ultimate say in how its presidential nominee will be picked, says New Hampshire party officials violated national party rules by scheduling its contest earlier than allowed.
The state of New Hampshire said local law requires its primary be held before any other state’s and opted not to move its date after the DNC said South Carolina’s primary will go first for their party, which has caused contention between the state of New Hampshire and the DNC.
Democratic party leaders have called New Hampshire’s primary "meaningless" and "detrimental" and argue it is disenfranchising and confusing voters. The state’s attorney general sent a cease-and-desist notice earlier this month to Democratic party leaders and said it’s the DNC that is in danger of harming voters.
Even though the results won’t count for anything, an underwhelming finish for Biden even in a write-in campaign could bring unwanted embarrassment.
South Carolina’s primary, the first in which delegates will count towards deciding a Democratic candidate, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3. South Carolina’s Republican primary is a few weeks later on Feb. 24.
Where to watch
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Coverage and analysis begins primary night, Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. ET.
This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.