Jan 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's surprise fan club: Why many Dems want him to win big in N.H.

Donald Trump speaks behind a podium that says "Trump," wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red tie.

Former President Trump speaks during a campaign event in Rochester, N.H., on Sunday. Photo: Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Donald Trump wants a big win in New Hampshire on Tuesday to effectively end the GOP presidential primary. Many Democrats are rooting for the same thing.

Why it matters: President Biden's team believes that Trump becoming the presumptive Republican nominee for president would give a much-needed jolt of energy to voters and grassroots donors who don't want to see Trump back in the White House.

Zoom in: Biden's backers see Tuesday as a win-win: Either Trump dominates Nikki Haley in New Hampshire and the general election campaign effectively begins Wednesday — or Trump gets caught in a drawn-out primary at least until South Carolina's GOP contest on Feb. 24.

  • The president's campaign has internal data indicating that most of the undecided voters Biden is targeting don't think Trump will be the Republican nominee because they haven't tuned into an election that's more than nine months away.
  • That's led Biden's team to believe the dynamics of the campaign will change significantly once those voters realize it really will be a Biden-Trump matchup in November, as CNN first reported.
  • "This is counterintuitive.... Normally, you want the Republicans to fight it out and spend money," former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki, who now has a show on MSNBC, said on "Meet the Press" this weekend.
  • But now, "they want to run against Trump because they feel that is the best contrast to be drawn."

Yes, but: Democratic voters aren't as enthusiastic about Biden as Republican voters are about Trump now.

  • A USA Today/Suffolk University poll this month found that 44% of GOP primary voters were "very enthusiastic" about Trump, while only 18% of Democratic primary voters said the same about Biden.
  • An NBC poll in November found that 63% of Biden voters were more against Trump than for Biden.
  • Trump raised $56.7 million from donors who gave $200 or less from the beginning of 2023 through Sept. 30, 2023, compared to Biden's $27.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission data.
  • Biden's overall fundraising has been robust, in part because the maximum contribution limit is more than $900,000 for donations he raises with the Democratic National Committee.

Between the lines: Democratic strategists close to the Biden campaign say that as good as Trump is at mobilizing his MAGA movement, he's also one of the best motivators of Democrats that the strategists have ever seen.

  • But some top Democrats worry that Biden's team is too optimistic about Trump virtually locking down the GOP nomination would change the dynamic of the race in a way that favors Biden.

After all, a Biden-Trump matchup has been assumed for months, leading to a series of head-to-head polls that have shown Biden facing an uphill fight for re-election.

  • Some still recall Jim Messina — Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager who is close to the Biden team — hoping in early 2016 that Hillary Clinton would get to run against Trump, who wound up getting elected.
  • "I wake up every morning," Messina said then, "and drop to my knees and pray, 'Please, God, give me Donald Trump' " as the GOP nominee.
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