Here’s how the New Hampshire primary is different than Iowa

First Read is your briefing from the NBC News Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in Bretton Woods, N.H., on Jan. 16, 2024.Charles Krupa / AP
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Happening this Wednesday: We are six days out from the New Hampshire primary… Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Dean Phillips all campaign in the Granite State… Trump picks up endorsement from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, while the Thursday’s GOP debate is now off… And President Biden meets with congressional leaders at the White House to discuss funding priorities.

But FIRST… The process, makeup and history of the upcoming New Hampshire primary couldn’t be more different than what we saw in the Iowa caucuses. 

For one thing, New Hampshire’s contest is a primary. Unlike in Iowa, where GOP caucusgoers had to arrive at a designated time to conduct party business and then vote, New Hampshire’s voters have all day (typically 7:00 am ET to 7:00 pm ET) to show up and cast their ballots. There is no early or no-excuse absentee voting, however. 

Then there’s New Hampshire’s famed independent/undeclared voters, who outnumber both registered Democrats and Republicans in the state. In Iowa on Monday, just a combined 18% of caucusgoers were either independents or crossover Democrats, according to the entrance poll. But for next week’s New Hampshire primary, the expectation is that these voters will make up nearly half the GOP electorate.  

That’s a big reason why former President Donald Trump’s lead in the New Hampshire polls is smaller than what we saw in Iowa.  

Also, undeclared voters can choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot at their polling place. (The deadline for registered Democrats to change their party affiliation and vote in the GOP primary was Oct. 6, 2023.) 

And that brings us to the last big difference between Iowa and New Hampshire. Unlike in Iowa on Monday, Democrats will be participating in the Granite State, too — though the contest won’t be counting in the Democratic presidential nominating race. 

Remember, because New Hampshire didn’t comply with the DNC’s proposed primary calendar (which has South Carolina going first), the party has said this contest won’t be awarding delegates to the candidates who are on the ballot — like Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and author Marianne Williamson. 

But Democrats are launching a write-in campaign to bolster President Biden, whose name won’t be on the ballot.  

Headline of the day

The number of the day is … 25

That’s how many Senate Republicans have endorsed former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, endorsed Trump on Fox News Tuesday night.

“I believe this race is over,” Cruz said before he endorsed Trump, citing the results of the Iowa caucuses.

The endorsement marks a milestone for Trump — now, over half of Senate Republicans have endorsed his campaign. And no other GOP presidential candidates still in the race have any endorsements from Senate Republicans. 

Eyes on November: Next stop — New Hampshire

 Republican presidential candidates high-tailed it out of Iowa after Monday’s caucuses, hitting the campaign trail in New Hampshire Tuesday with just one week until the Granite State primary. 

NBC’s Matt Dixon, Natasha Korecki and Jonathan Allen laid out the stakes ahead of the New Hampshire primary, with DeSantis in “survival mode.” The Florida governor is opting to focus more on South Carolina, as former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump duke it out in New England, where DeSantis and his allies are hoping a Haley loss could boost his campaign.

Haley declined to directly answer if New Hampshire is a must-win, telling NBC’s Emma Barnett that she needs “to get stronger” in the Granite State. Haley hit the campaign trail Tuesday with GOP Gov. Chris Sununu and held a town hall in Bretton Woods, Barnett and NBC’s Greg Hyatt report.  

 Trump held his own campaign event in Atkinson, where entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy joined him onstage after endorsing the former president (and the crowd cheered “Veep” as Ramaswamy ended his remarks), per NBC’s Katherine Koretski.  

DeSantis did travel to New Hampshire later on Tuesday after first campaigning in South Carolina. His only public event in the Granite State was canceled due to the bad weather, per NBC’s Alec Hernández, but DeSantis did participate in a CNN town hall from New Hampshire. 

In other campaign news … 

Not debatable: ABC News canceled its New Hampshire primary debate originally scheduled for Thursday after DeSantis was the only candidate to commit to participating. Haley had said she would participate if Trump also agreed to do so. 

Under pressure: Haley’s donors are pressuring her to defeat Trump in New Hampshire, or at least be very competitive, CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports.

Trump trial: Trump traveled to New York before heading up to New Hampshire to attend jury selection for his defamation damages trial involving writer E. Jean Carroll, per NBC’s Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian. Trump was found liable last year for sexually abusing Carroll. 

Asa, out: After a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that he is ending his presidential bid, per NBC’s Jillian Frankel. 

Party time: The New York Times reports that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s effort to get onto the ballot as an independent has led him to try to create his own political party in a handful of states.  

Ballot challenges: Multiple transgender candidates in Ohio are facing challenges to their efforts to qualify for the ballot after they did not use their former names on their petitions. 

Two paths forward: NBC’s Allan Smith shares the story of two state Republican parties — in Michigan and Pennsylvania — and how their paths diverged after losses in the 2022 midterms.

Remaking the GOP: NBC’s Chuck Todd examines some of the most notable shifts in Trump’s favoramong the GOP over the last eight years, including the share of Iowa’s caucusgoers who now say that Trump “shares their values” more than the other Republican presidential candidates. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:  

Speaker Mike Johnson is trying to keep his job while navigating the hard-right faction of his conference and crafting deals with Democrats ahead of a possible government shutdown, writes NBC’s Sahil Kapur. 

House Republicans have paused their effort to hold Hunter Biden in contempt amid revived discussions about the president’s son testifying before two committees, per NBC’s Rebecca Kaplan, Sarah Fitzpatrick, Tom Winter and Ryan Nobles. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors made clear Tuesday that they oppose Hunter Biden’s effort to dismiss his federal gun charges.  

Federal prosecutors are pursuing a five-year jail sentence for the IRS contractor who leaked Trump’s tax records.