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  • Eliot Fuller

To Save his Party, Chris Christie Needs to Drop Out

We’re less than two months away from the 2024 Iowa Caucuses, and Republican candidates for president have their sights set on the Hawkeye State—all but one, that is. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems to be more focused on New Hampshire, the second primary state of next year's election cycle. While FiveThirtyEight shows Christie at just 4% in Iowa, they have him at 12% in New Hampshire, outperforming his national average and putting him in third place in the state. He even polls ahead of Ron DeSantis there, but lags behind Nikki Haley and, of course, Donald Trump.

This race is developing a very interesting dynamic, as each of the remaining candidates seems to appeal to a different base of voters. Trump gets the MAGA crowd. DeSantis gets the folks who like MAGA policy and Trump himself but wouldn’t mind a fresh face without the baggage. Haley gets the voters who are seeking a Trump alternative, and possibly someone less extreme. Christie gets the so-called “RINO” Republicans, who have a strong disdain for Trump. Imagine a few different scenarios involving the suspension of campaigns by each candidate. If Ron DeSantis drops out, a considerable number of his supporters will likely back Trump instead. If Nikki Haley drops out, she might see some of her supporters go to DeSantis. If Chris Christie drops out, it’s safe to say that the majority of his supporters will turn to Haley.

Circling back to Christie’s strength in New Hampshire, it’s worth noting how helpful the suspension of his campaign would be to Haley in that state. Polling shows her in second place there, and if she were able to pick up at least two-thirds of Christie’s supporters, she’d find herself within striking distance of Trump, hitting nearly 30% in a hypothetical race.

Let’s focus solely on Nikki Haley for a second. She seems pretty optimistic that she can secure her party’s nomination, but in order for this to happen, she’s going to need a lot of luck. First, she’s going to need DeSantis to slowly erode Trump’s support without rising into first place. When Iowa comes around, she doesn’t necessarily need to get first place, but she needs to exceed her polling numbers to have a chance going forward. A strong performance there would give her some momentum going into New Hampshire, and if she gets close to Trump or even beats him there, she’ll have more momentum, which could be significant going into the third contest of the cycle, her home state of South Carolina.

In some ways, Haley controls her own destiny here. But in New Hampshire, she relies on Chris Christie to give her a boost. There’s only room for one or two non-Trump candidates—certainly not three—in this race. Because Christie currently polls the lowest of all the serious non-Trump candidates and has no realistic path to the nomination, it’s on him to drop out and endorse Haley before the New Hampshire primary. He claims to have this overarching mission of stopping Trump from getting nominated, but now there’s only one way to do this: get out of everyone else's way so they can stop him. If Chris Christie is unable to do this, then clearly his own ego and pursuit of power are stronger than his desire to stop the 45th President from becoming the 47th.



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