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(CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE) — For weeks, Nikki Haley and her allies have said she was ready to take on Donald Trump in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary — and prove she has the momentum with Republicans to keep fighting him for the party’s presidential nomination.

With Haley’s endorsement from the state’s popular governor, Chris Sununu, and its higher proportion of college-educated and independent voters, the state was seen as the most favorable early battleground for her against the former president after she finished a distant third in Iowa.

New Hampshire polls found Haley had some reason for optimism, with 538’s polling average showing her gaining notable ground with voters since December.

Still, Trump’s own support has also increased and they headed into primary day with Haley still trailing by double digits.

The Haley team, including surrogates like Sununu, also softened their own expectations for how she would perform, from predicting a “landslide” to vowing a “strong second.”

“We’re fighting for every inch look. No one said that this was going to be easy,” Haley campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas told ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis on Tuesday night. “Donald Trump is Donald Trump.”

‘A landslide here in New Hampshire’

Haley won the endorsement of anti-Trump New Hampshire Gov. Sununu in December. He chose her over other options like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both of whom have since ended their campaigns.

Sununu quickly became a key surrogate for Haley, stumping for her in numerous rallies and TV interviews.

Fresh off the endorsement — six weeks ahead of the primary — Sununu in a joint television appearance with Haley boasted that the former U.N. ambassador’s chances of victory were high.

“The fact is, we’re gonna have record turnout here,” Sununu said. “And if any — everybody that can vote comes out and votes, there’s no doubt Nikki Haley’s gonna win this thing in a landslide here in New Hampshire. And that’s the fundamental change.”

‘Iowa starts it’

Whereas opponents like DeSantis devoted more resources to a strong showing in Iowa’s caucuses, which kicked off the nominating race last week, Haley promised supporters at one Milford, New Hampshire, event that their primary would be a chance to “get this right.”

“You know, Iowa starts it. You know that you correct it, ” Haley said on Jan. 3.

Introducing Haley at the event, Sununu admitted he expected Trump to win Iowa — which Trump ultimately did, with 51% of the vote — but predicted Haley would have a good showing in the state.

“I think she’s going to shock everyone in Iowa with a strong second.” Sununu said.

Haley overtook DeSantis for second place in a late poll but ended up falling behind in the actual caucuses, ending up in third with 19%.

‘Strong … and then even stronger’

Last week, Sununu struck a different tone about Haley’s goals in his state: “We always wanted to have a strong second,” he told ABC News’ Byron Pitts, adding that it was “the only expectation we ever laid out.”

On the day of the New Hampshire primary, Haley had South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary on her mind. In an interview with ABC News’ Rachel Scott, Haley was asked about recent polls showing Trump widening his lead above Haley in New Hampshire.

“We’re going home to South Carolina. The goal is we wanted to be strong in Iowa, stronger in New Hampshire and then even stronger that in South Carolina,” Haley said.

But there, as in other parts of the country, Trump has an enormous polling lead.

A Haley campaign memo released Tuesday argued that the Super Tuesday primaries on March 5 would offer “significant fertile ground for Nikki.”

“We are committed to see this through. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is first a month in politics is a lifetime,” Perez-Cubas, the campaign spokeswoman, said on ABC News Live on Tuesday. “A lot can happen over the next several weeks.”

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