Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV
The biggest positive thing to come out of New Hampshire is this: every day that Nikki Haley stays in the race is a bad day for Donald Trump. Did you see his meltdown at his so-called victory celebration? For a man who finished 10 or 11 points ahead of his opponent, he didn’t look very happy. He called her “delusional” on his social media platform, and after Haley indicated at her post-election rally that she’s staying in the race, Trump let loose with this: “Let’s not have somebody take a victory when she had a very bad night. She had a very bad night. I find in life, you can’t let people get away with bullshit. You can’t. And when I watched her in the fancy dress … I said, ‘What’s she doing?’ We won. And she did the same thing last week.”
Folks, it’s never a good thing when a winner has to point out that he won on election night. He should have been enjoying the moment, not whining. It rankles him that Haley got any votes at all in New Hampshire.
One thing you have to give Trump is that he is a crafty politician. Trump can read the results, and he’s not happy about them. The Washington Post reported its exit polls showed that Haley’s support was half-hearted: “Nearly 3 in 10 expressed some reservations about her, and 4 in 10 said their vote was mostly about dislike for the other candidates—or, more aptly, candidate.” Trump knows they’re talking about him.
Trump is well aware that many of the votes in New Hampshire weren’t for Nikki Haley as much as they were against him. Having Haley on the ballot gave voters someone to cast their anti-Trump vote for. It drove Trump crazy that in Iowa, nearly half—49 percent—of the vote went against him. In New Hampshire, he did better with 55 percent. But the woman he pulled an Obama on, telling crowds the lie that she is ineligible to run for president, the one with the first name he appears to consider damnable if not downright un-American, well, on Tuesday night she managed to cobble together 44 percent by the time all the returns were in.
What really bothers Trump is the way he thinks the vote should have gone. With no other serious candidate in the race, he thinks his vote should have been around that of his pal, Vlad The Inhaler, who in 2018 got 77 percent in Russia. Can you imagine how it drove Trump nuts when Haley stayed in the race in New Hampshire after that pathetic DeSantis dropped out? Trump could have been on the phone to Putin bragging how he beat him with 80 percent of the vote or more, maybe even in the high 90’s!
That’s what Trump wants, to be a strongman like Putin. Strongmen don’t get 51 percent here, 54 there. Strongmen don’t just win. They dominate.
The people who did go for Trump were not the kind of voters who are going to help him in the general election in November. MSNBC exit polls indicated that Trump got huge majorities of voters who were “very conservative,” had no college education, and earned less than $50,000 a year, while Haley’s vote was pretty much the polar opposite, winning more than 50 percent of moderates, those with college educations, and people who earned more money than Trump’s voters. A Republican “strategist” on MSNBC concluded grimly that Trump’s New Hampshire figures in the primary showed that he will definitely lose the state in November.
Other pundits pointed out that Trump got what amounted to the MAGA base vote in Iowa and New Hampshire, while losing Republican moderates and the hold-your-nose-and-vote-for-the-bastard wing of the party. That can’t happen in November in battleground states. If it does, Trump will lose. The high percentage of independent voters who turned out to vote for Haley in New Hampshire was more bad news for Trump. Nikki Haley won’t be on the ballot in November. Joe Biden will, and independents going as strongly as they did in New Hampshire against Trump is very bad news for Trump when he’s the Republican nominee in November.
And then there is what I’m calling the “cascade of shit effect.” From now on, even if Trump sweeps the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday, he’s going to be chased by a cascade of bad news. Just yesterday, Trump lost his appeal to lift the gag order imposed on him by Judge Tanya Chutkan on the full Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Listen to this slap-down: “Upon consideration of appellant’s petition for rehearing en banc, the response thereto, and the absence of a request by any member of the court for a vote, it is ORDERED that the petition be denied.” Translation: not even one of the 11 members of the D.C. Circuit Court agreed to hear Trump’s appeal and vote on it. Four of the judges refusing Trump’s appeal are Republicans, of whom he appointed three.
Probably between now and the South Carolina primary, but certainly before Super Tuesday, Trump will be the recipient of bad news in two New York courtrooms. In state court, a judge who has already found that he defrauded banks and insurance companies in his applications for loans and policies will decide on what penalty he will face. The New York Attorney General has asked that Trump and his company be fined $370 million and that he be banned from doing business in the state of New York. Over in federal court, a jury is hearing the penalty phase of the case brought by E. Jean Carroll against Trump for defamation. She is asking for $10 million in damages, on top of $5 million she was already awarded for Trump having raped her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan.
The March 4 trial date Trump was facing on four federal charges related to his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election has been pushed back, but Trump is not going to be able to keep that scam going for much longer. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has already heard oral arguments on Trump’s claim of “absolute immunity” against prosecution for his actions after he lost the 2020 election. The appeals court is expected to rule in a matter of weeks, not months, and the case will immediately be taken up by the Supreme Court because Special Counsel Jack Smith has already filed an appeal which the court put off to give time for the D.C. Circuit to hear arguments and rule.
If I were to guess, the Supreme Court will rule on Trump’s claim of immunity before its term is up in June, and Trump’s trial for attempting to interfere with the certification of electoral ballots will begin before the Republican National Convention in mid-July.
If he goes into November with a conviction on his record, in no way will that be good news for candidate Trump. Sure, he’ll hang onto the Guns, God, and Donald vote in their pickup trucks and MAGA hats, but polls are showing he could lose a significant percentage of voters—including Republican voters—if he is found guilty of even one of the many counts he faces in three separate courts. The number of New Hampshire voters who in exit polls said that if Trump is convicted of a crime he is unfit to serve as president was 42 percent, up from 31 percent in exit polls after Trump won the Iowa caucus. A January poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that among Republican voters, 28 percent said they would not support Trump in the general election if he is found guilty of committing a crime. A New York Times/Siena College poll in December found that 24 percent of Republicans who told pollsters they will vote for Trump in November said he should not be the party’s nominee if he is found guilty of a crime.
That is Republican voters. Among Independents, the numbers are worse for Trump.
One last thing is great about Haley staying in the Republican primary race at least through South Carolina. Running against a woman, especially a disloyal woman who in the mind of Donald Trump owes him, will continue to drive him nuts, and when he’s mad, he starts referring to himself in the third person and talking about stuff like how people are going to get “de-banked” and how it was Nikki Haley, not Nancy Pelosi, who refused the offer he never made on January 6 to send 10,000 National Guard soldiers to the Capitol. We won’t have to depend on reporters and pundits to point out Trump’s verbal slips and outright manic nonsense. Haley will be right there watching him ready to capitalize every time he opens his mouth and some form of evident lunacy escapes his lips. When she does, it will make him even crazier.
So go, Nikki, go! Every vote for her is a vote against Trump. Keep that in mind the next time you’re gnashing your teeth and Worrying About The State of Our Nation. Nikki may not be one of us, but she’s giving Donald Trump fits, and folks, that’s a good thing.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better.