Trump defies early-state traditions
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BEDFORD, N.H. — Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE is making his own rules for campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, ignoring early-state traditions in the process.

Iowa and New Hampshire take pride in their first-in-the-nation status. 

Small, intimate campaign events and coveted endorsements from state insiders are supposed to be part of the formula for doing well here. 

Candidates routinely lavish superlatives on Iowa and New Hampshire voters, highlighting how seriously people take their responsibility for weeding out the presidential race. 

Such steps are supposed to be necessary to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but Trump appears determined to challenge those conventions. 

In November, Trump actually insulted Iowa’s voters when details about Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonPress: Drain the swamp – of Scott Pruitt An ode to fathers Ben Carson walks back plan to triple rent for poor MORE’s autobiography came into question. 

“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” Trump said. “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

Instead of backfiring on Trump, the comments became a piece of the context in Carson’s steady decline in polls. 

Once Iowa’s leader, Carson has slipped to single digits in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. Trump is a close second behind Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis MORE (R-Texas) and has nearly triple the support of Carson. 

In New Hampshire, Trump throws regular punches at the state’s most prominent newspaper, The New Hampshire Union Leader. 

He’s ripped publisher Joe McQuaid — who endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential bid. 

“McQuaid is Christie’s lapdog,” Trump said during a 10-minute rant about the paper at a Nashua, N.H., rally Monday night. “It’s a dying paper ... since 1980 they’ve picked one president ­— Ronald Reagan.”

Candidates don’t usually go about insulting the Union Leader, but Trump’s fans don’t seem to mind it. His comments drew raucous applause at Monday night’s event. 

And while Christie has seemingly taken up residence in New Hampshire, Trump has stopped in the state for just 23 events, a strikingly low number. 

The Trump campaign attributes the large venues to demand and enthusiasm from his supporters.

But Trump is a known germaphobe who dislikes shaking hands, which might be another reason he’s avoided the diner appearances that are a staple of New Hampshire politics.

In any event, none of this has hurt him in the state, at least so far. 

Trump has nearly double the support of Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDem scores upset over Republican in Florida county commissioner race GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (R-Fla.) and his other Republican opponents in state polls. 

Most of Trump’s success since he entered the race has been chalked up to his unconventional style. Voters in this cycle seem not to trust traditional politicians and are craving someone different. 

New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D), who has served in public office in New Hampshire since 1975, says those are the reasons Trump is doing so well in his state.

“Nobody has done it quite like Trump is [running his campaign] now. Nobody,” D’Allesandro told The Hill. “If you want a basic premise of why he’s so popular, it’s [because] the public doesn’t trust the establishment. They have no faith in the establishment.”

Others, however, aren’t so sure Trump is that differnet. 

Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, argues Trump’s campaign style is more in the tradition of New Hampshire politics than critics think.

“If you look at a candidate who’s spending a tremendous amount of time in New Hampshire and running a tremendous amount of events in New Hampshire, they’re going to lose,” Smith said, referring to campaign strategies of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Chris Dodd. “They have no choice. They’re [using that campaign strategy] because that’s the only thing they have money and resources to do.”

Trump’s touch-and-go rallies are gaining media attention similar to the style of rallies President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaigns held in 2008.

But Smith did warn the Trump campaign that the best predictor of somebody coming out and voting is whether they did in the past. Trump is engaging a new group of citizens who don’t habitually vote, so whether they do will determine the outcome of the early state contests.

“Voting is a habit more than it is being driven by anything any candidate is doing.”