After it became clear that Donald Trump was going to win the Iowa caucuses, Vivek Ramaswamy – who marked a distant fourth-place finish in the Hawkeye state, announced that he was dropping out and endorsing the former president.
The next day, Jan. 16, Ramaswamy joined Trump at a rally in New Hampshire, where he sang Trump’s praises, while Trump returned the compliments.
“He has a big, beautiful, bright future ahead,” Trump said of the 38-year-old “anti-woke” investor.
Now, with New Hampshire’s Jan. 23 primary fast approaching, people are wondering whether Ramaswamy’s support will make a dent in a state which is relatively friendly to Trump’s most serious threat (for various values of ‘threat’), former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, the Epoch Times reports.
Republican political consultant James Hartman, who supports Haley but isn’t working on her campaign, told the Epoch Times that Ramaswamy’s backing could help Trump, but added: “The thing with endorsements, however, is they don’t usually translate in a one-to-one ratio when you’re changing venues because there are so many other variables.”
“Mr. Ramaswamy has positioned himself as Trump 2.0 from the get-go. So, certainly, we would expect his folks to move in that direction. Nonetheless, don’t underestimate the ability of voters to think for themselves,” Hartman continued.
Mr. Hartman pointed out that Iowa hasn’t predicted non-incumbent nominees very often. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won it in 2016. It went to then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) in 2012. In 2008, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and other contenders in the Hawkeye State. The last non-incumbent to take Iowa was George W. Bush, whose name is emblematic of the older Republican leadership from which many younger GOPers are seeking to separate themselves.
But President Trump is no ordinary non-incumbent—and few liken his populist message to that of the younger Bush. -The Epoch Times
Vanderbilt University economics professor Mathias Polborn, who studied the New Hampshire primary, agrees – but went further.
“It’s highly likely that, for many of Mr. Ramaswamy’s supporters, Mr. Trump is the second choice, so he is the most likely to benefit,” he told the Times. “The same is true for Mr. DeSantis if he were to drop out. Those media outlets that are talking about the ‘non-Trump vote’ and add the vote shares for all the other candidates are living in a fantasy world.”
Wayne Steger, a DePaul University professor, has been a vocal skeptic of Ramaswamy’s candidacy – predicting in June of last year that there will be a “near-zero chance that Vivek Ramaswamy gets traction.”
“His departure from the race won’t make much of a difference.” He elaborated, suggesting that most of Ramaswamy’s support would naturally align with Trump. “Most of these votes are going to Trump, which they would anyway, even if he remained in the race. He might have done okay in New Hampshire, but I doubt it.”
“I would anticipate Haley doing better in New Hampshire, [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis worse, and Trump about the same,” Steger predicted – roughly in line with the latest polling reported by RealClearPolitics – which showed that from Jan. 4 through Jan. 17, Trump, with 46.3% of the vote, was towering over Haley at 33.5%, and DeSantis at 6% in New Hampshire.
While it looks more and more likely that Trump will secure the GOP nomination, Polborn laid out an improbable, but not impossible, scenario which could lead other candidates to matter more in the end.
“If Trump eventually has to drop out; say, he is offered a deal by the DOJ [Department of Justice] that gets him out of all legal troubles, in exchange for dropping out of the race—not that likely, but not an impossible scenario either—then it conceivably matters who was the ‘last non-Trump candidate standing’ in order to make a claim on the nomination,” he said, adding “The Republican primaries are simply not a good institution to deal with this scenario.”