02.26.2024 0

After being crushed in South Carolina by 20 points, Nikki Haley can’t win and she knows it

By Robert Romano

Former President Donald Trump demolished former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley in the Feb. 24 South Carolina Republican presidential primary by 20 points, 59.8 percent to 39.5 percent, leaving almost no hope that she could defeat Trump outright for the GOP nomination with Trump leading national and state primary polls by more than 50 points on average.

So far, Trump has swept Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, a feat never before achieved in a competitive GOP primary. Incumbent presidents running for another term on the other hand do that all the time, owing to their incumbency advantage, which the former president appears to be retaining as he runs for a third time in 2024.

There is also the simple logic that if Haley could not win her home state of South Carolina that she represented for eight years, she cannot win.

At this point, it is entirely possible that Trump sweeps the state primaries completely. The one place he might not win would be something like the March 3 Washington, D.C. primary, which Trump similarly lost in 2016 to Sen. Marco Rubio 37 percent to 14 percent. But would a loss in D.C. really hurt Trump, or solidify the view among GOP voters that once again Trump is running as the outsider while an entrenched Republican establishment based out of the nation’s capital attempts to subvert the will of voters?   

Moving forward, there simply does not appear to be any possible path to victory for Haley, with Trump also leading the March 5 Super Tuesday states of Alabama, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia with massive leads, according to a Jan. 23 to Feb. 4 Morning Consult poll, leading by more than 50 points on average.

And then the states after that look even worse for Haley, with supermajorities in the Morning Consult in every state: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Nationally, Trump is leading Haley in the GOP nomination by an average by 62 points, 77 percent to 15 percent, according to latest results from RealClearPolling.com including in subsequent Morning Consult polls that were taken this month. It’s not even close.

All of which has now led the Charles Koch donation network to withdraw financial support from the Haley campaign, with Americans for Prosperity Action CEO Emily Seidel in an internal Feb. 25 email obtained by Politico stating “given the challenges in the primary states ahead, we don’t believe any outside group can make a material difference to widen [Haley’s] path to victory. And so while we will continue to endorse her, we will focus our resources where we can make the difference. And that’s the U.S. Senate and House.”

Leading up to the primary former Gov. Nikki Haley on Feb. 20 stated that she would not leave the race even if she lost her home state: “South Carolina will vote on Saturday. But on Sunday, I’ll still be running for president. I’m not going anywhere.”

That led Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, who has endorsed Trump, the same day to renew his call for Haley to drop out of the race, stating, “Nikki Haley says she’s ‘not going anywhere.’ She’s correct. Her campaign for the Republican nomination is dead as GOP voters are overwhelmingly rejecting her.”

It’s hard to find an argument against that. In a competitive primary, by now, a major candidate would have at least a victory or two from the early states to justify their continued position in the race. In 2016, for example, Ted Cruz had won Iowa, while Donald Trump had won New Hampshire and South Carolina, and so the race went on until Trump clinched the nomination.

In fact, no candidate has won in modern history for either party without winning Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, which usually serve the role of winnowing down the field. Haley lost all three. The 2024 GOP nomination appears to be a fait accompli with no candidate able to truly compete against former President Trump. Now, it’s just a matter of time.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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