Can Super Tuesday save Nikki Haley’s Trump challenge?

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It is possible that Nikki Haley’s homecoming in South Carolina will either be the end of her campaign or the beginning of a new one. This campaign is trying to prevent former President Donald Trump from being on the ballot in 2024 by relying on independents who lean to the right.

In the New Hampshire primaries, Trump defeated Haley, his former ambassador to the United Nations, by around 11%. This victory came after Trump won the Iowa caucuses.

As a result, the majority of commentators, including the campaign of President Joe Biden, have referred to Trump as the unavoidable nominee for the Republican party.

However, as a result of the election that took place on Tuesday, there is a vast canyon of support for Trump among voters who are affiliated with the Republican Party and independents. The Haley campaign is seeking to capitalize on this support before the clock runs out.

In an interview with USA TODAY, Anthony Dobson, a retired Navy veteran who resides in Lakewood, Colorado, stated that if he were forced to choose between the two candidates, he would vote for Nikki Haley every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Dobson is 46 years old.

He continued by saying, “It is not about who she is.” “It’s about who she isn’t—which is Donald Trump.”

More than a dozen states will hold their primary elections on Super Tuesday, which means that Dobson, along with millions of other Americans, won’t be able to cast a ballot until at least March 5th. This is the date the primary elections will take place.

In spite of the fact that her campaign is receiving an increasing amount of skepticism, Haley is expressing confidence that substantial victories are still possible.

The most important thing, according to Todd Belt, a professor and the director of the political management program at George Washington University in Washington, District of Columbia, is to avoid an embarrassing loss in her home state. However, the most recent results indicate that a significant portion of voters who are conservative want to abandon Trump.

“There are states out there that are more amenable to the type of message that Haley has than the ones she’s been in,” according to Belt. “She does have a chance on Super Tuesday, I think the big question is: can she get there?”

At the same time, Trump is giving off the impression that he is unstoppable, while his followers are demanding that Haley abandon her campaign.

Haley is still being referred to as a “bird brain” by the former president, who has threatened that contributors who assist her will be “permanently barred” from participating in the MAGA movement. His campaign has received endorsements from over 150 presently serving and formerly serving political officials in the state of South Carolina.

Super Tuesday ‘fertile ground’ Haley camp says

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Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at her New Hampshire presidential primary watch party at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH, on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. Haley was unable to secure enough votes to take the state's delegates from former President Donald J. Trump.

A candidate for the Republican presidential nomination requires 1,215 delegates in order to secure the nomination, and as of right now, Trump has 32 delegates, while Haley only has 17.

In preparation for Super Tuesday, which will see 15 states and one territory, a total of 1,151 delegates, up for grabs, Haley’s supporters are keen to highlight how well she performed with independents in the New Hampshire primary. They believe that this bodes well for the next election.

Out of 14 states, for example, eleven of them have primaries that, similar to New Hampshire, are open to voters who are not exclusively members of the Republican Party.

A total of 49% of Republican voters in the Granite State voted for Trump, according to the results of the election. Nevertheless, Haley emerged victorious with independents outnumbering her by 22%.

Betsy Ankney, who is Haley’s campaign manager, offered a more optimistic outlook on the approaching elections, stating that the marathon of elections that will take place on March 5 is “significant fertile ground” for them.

She specifically cites seven of those states as having demographics that are in their favor in a campaign memo that was distributed this past week. These states include Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Texas.

She gave the impression that Haley intends to see this through to the end, regardless of the findings in South Carolina.

“We will have a very good picture of where this race stands after Super Tuesday,” Ankney said. “We will have a very good picture.”

Trump’s advantage: winner take all

President Donald Trump departs for his sexual assault defamation trial in New York on January 25, 2024.

Assuming that Haley is performing better than Trump in the race against President Joe Biden, it is difficult to understand why Republican primary voters would not flock to her campaign as the superior alternative.

According to Josh Putnam, a political scientist and the head of FHQ Strategies LLC, a non-partisan political consulting organization, this is due to the fact that electability is not a primary priority for those Republican voters.

In his words, “They are confident that Trump will be able to handle the situation.”

Putnam, who specializes in party delegate selection rules, presidential campaigns, and elections, emphasizes while there are some states where Haley may be able to snatch up a decent number of delegates, he doesn’t see a scenario where she either wins contests or wins more delegates in any given state than Trump does.

“I just don’t see what that does for her in the short term or in the long term,” he added. “She could continue on, but I wouldn’t recommend that.”

Former Republican National Committee spokeswoman Liz Mair, who worked for John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008, stated that the allocation criteria are less advantageous for a contender like Haley, who is attempting to unseat a front-runner, than they were eight years ago. Mair worked for McCain’s campaign.

A similar effort was conducted by Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, in the primary election against Donald Trump in 2016. Even though he had accumulated delegates, he was defeated on Super Tuesday of that year, and he eventually decided to withdraw from the race in the middle of March.

In spite of this, Mair stated that there is even less room for Haley to make a comeback because the Republican Party has altered a significant number of its regulations.

“The bar to being considered winning enough in order to take everything is pretty low,” she said. “A lot of these states are winner take all,” she said. “The winner takes everything there.”

In the event that Donald Trump receives more than fifty percent of the votes cast in the state of California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Utah, and Vermont, for example, he will be awarded all 323 of the delegates that are available in those states.

It is possible for him to win all 141 delegates in the state of Alabama, Oklahoma, and Virginia if he receives more than half of the votes in each of the congressional districts in those states.

Consequently, Haley is left with only a few states that have gained a fraction of its delegates, some of which are located in the deep South and have a demographic base that is favorable to the former president.

Putnam stated that Trump will continue to win the lion’s share of the delegates even in those states, and that he will continue to create an insurmountable lead among delegates.

Anti-Trump narrative v. delegate count 

Nikki Haley questions Donald Trump's mental fitness on campaign trail

Considering that the Haley campaign is going into South Carolina with a deficit of 25 percentage points and has promised to remain in the race until Super Tuesday in March, some Republican strategists believe that they should be less concerned about delegates.

As an alternative, she should work to strengthen her argument that Trump’s behavior and other problems render him unfit for election.

According to William F. B. O’Reilly, a Republican strategist from New York, “Trump will almost certainly win the majority of the delegates prior to the convention; however, in the event that he stumbles — or gets criminally convicted — Haley should be on hand to pick up the banner.”

Although it may appear paradoxical, at this point, it is more critical to have message that is both clear and consistent than it is to have delegates.

On Friday, Haley did exactly that after Trump caused a commotion when he stormed out of a federal courthouse in Manhattan as a lawyer for writer E. Jean Carroll was making closing arguments in the sex abuse defamation trial against him.

In the course of his use of his social media platform to vent his frustrations with Carroll, the former president made the incorrect assertion that she is “running for office.” After Donald Trump confused her with Nancy Pelosi in a recent speech, Haley swiftly responded by posting her own post on Friday, calling into question the mental capabilities of the president.

A moment of silence: did President Trump just remark that the guy who is suing him is “running for office?” Was he once again perplexed? “I was not in a courtroom in New York City,” Haley stated in a post that she made on X, which was once known as Twitter, on Friday.

The next four weeks will be crucial for Haley in terms of convincing conservatives and independents on the right of center that Trump’s shortcomings are significant, according to Rick Wilson, who is a former Republican political strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project, which is an anti-Trump organization.

He cautioned that putting too much emphasis on accumulating more delegates or seeing polls that indicate Haley defeating Biden will not ensure that she will be nominated for president, regardless of whether Trump hits a pothole legally or otherwise.

As Wilson put it, “If something does happen to him, you will see other people get back in the race to try to seize the throne,” and he believes that this will happen. There is a possibility that twenty people will join in.

He stated that Haley needs to convince a segment of the Republican electorate that being loyal to Trump is a decision that would be disastrous in November. This will be a challenging task for Haley to accomplish given the loyalty that many voters who lean to the right have for the former president.

Anthony Raye, a Republican from Thomaston, Maine, who is 39 years old, stated that he will vote for Trump over Haley in March regardless of what occurs, and that he is not impressed by polls that show Haley defeating Biden by a greater margin than Trump.

“No one can beat Biden,” we said. During an interview with USA Today, Raye, who works at the insurance office that his father owns, expressed his belief that Trump will win by a landslide.

The independent data entry professional Justin Ogden, who is 33 years old and hails from San Antonio, Texas, has stated that he is not enthusiastic about voting for either candidate. He said that Trump was “almost oafish,” yet he suggested that Haley should withdraw from the race.

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