Updated Jan 24, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's dominance in the GOP primaries is unprecedented

Winners of Iowa and New Hampshire GOP primaries
Note: Years with an incumbent Republican president not included. Data: AP; Table: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Former President Donald Trump made history by registering a convincing win in New Hampshire after securing a blowout in Iowa.

The big picture: Iowa and New Hampshire have kicked off the primary season since 1976, and never before has one candidate swept both states —except when an incumbent Republican president was on the ballot.

  • Unsurprisingly, the incumbent candidates that won both states — such as Ronald Reagan in 1984 or Trump in 2020 — all became the eventual nominee.

Between the lines: The GOP race is starting to look more like one of those incumbent races, with the candidate facing token opposition, rather than the wide-open contests we've seen in other recent election cycles.

State of play: Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley insists she's in for the long haul, a position that has outraged Trump.

  • But the polling looked far better for Haley in New Hampshire than other early primaries, including in her home state of South Carolina.
  • Having failed to win in New Hampshire, it's unclear if she can beat Trump anywhere. Haley is now coming under heavy pressure from Republican leaders to drop out.
  • Even if she declines to do so, there's every indication Trump's historic dominance will continue.

Worth noting: Trump's likely opponent in November, President Biden, was nominated in 2020 despite finishing 4th in Iowa and 5th in New Hampshire.

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