Nashua, New Hampshire — Michael Suarez’ girlfriend thought he was nuts for going to the event. But when the prized invitation appeared in his email, the Merrimack, New Hampshire, voter knew he couldn’t miss the post-election party for Donald Trump.
“In this world, we need a tough guy,” Suarez said, referring to what he sees as the need for a president to interact with dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, “a macho guy who doesn’t pull punches.”
Minutes later, he cheered along with several hundred volunteers and supporters as his candidate took the stage in a Nashua, New Hampshire, hotel ballroom. The former president and Republican presidential candidate had just won the New Hampshire primary with more than 54% of the vote to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s 43%, based on 91% of votes counted.
The results made history in several ways. It is Trump’s third time to best his competitors in the New Hampshire primary over three presidential cycles and his second campaign win in two weeks. By winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Trump becomes the first non-incumbent Republican in 40 years to win both contests.
“We set a record,” exclaimed the Republican candidate, pointing to his 30-point win in the Iowa caucuses. “It was the best in the history of the caucus.”
The New Hampshire primary narrowed to two candidates when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race on Sunday and threw his support behind Trump. On the eve of the election, the former president was joined at a rally by three other presidential campaign competitors-turned-supporters: South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burnam.
Haley narrowed the gap with Trump, coming in a strong second, much stronger than polls indicated.
“At one point in this campaign, there were 14 of us running,” Haley said at her post-election rally. “And we were at 2% in the polls. Well, I’m a fighter. And, I’m scrappy. And now we are the last one standing next to Donald Trump.”
Haley also benefitted from the endorsement of New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and the votes of independents who chose her on a Republican ballot, like Peggi Sawiki from Pelham, New Hampshire. “She’s going to bring people together,” the schoolteacher said, “and that’s what we need in this country right now.”
President Joe Biden was not on the ballot, yet he easily won the Democratic primary, albeit with a little help from some friends. Last year, the Democratic National Committee demoted New Hampshire from its historic spot as the first state primary in favor of South Carolina’s more diverse voters. New Hampshire party officials angrily forged ahead with the primary and supporters launched a write-in campaign.
The next primary is in February in South Carolina where Trump and Haley will do battle again. Haley is a former governor of the state, while Trump has been collecting endorsements from state officials. Trump predicts he will “win easily.” Haley seemed to welcome the challenge, joyously announcing at her Tuesday night rally, “Thank you for the love, New Hampshire, we’re goin’ home to South Carolina!”