Why Trump Loyalists in Carolinas Are Moving to November – Regardless of Nikki Haley

By | February 24, 2024

Despite Nikki HaleyIf we do our utmost, the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential primary could be nearing an end with only four states remaining in the nominating process.

South Carolina Republicans go to the polls on Saturday, and their North Carolina counterparts will do the same on March 5, when the party officially decides whether to nominate Donald Trump or Haley as a candidate for president. For the thousands cheering his arrival at the Winthrop Coliseum on Friday, Trump’s reappointment is inevitable.

“To be honest, we don’t worry much about tomorrow. We want to aim for November 5th,” Trump said in the opening minutes of his nearly two-hour speech at the Rock Hill rally.

Trump has won every 2024 Republican nominating contest so far, including the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Even in Nevada, where Trump entered the state’s caucus while Haley participated in the primaries, Haley lost to the “none of these candidates” option by a margin of 63.2% to 30.7%. Polls show him with a big lead in South Carolina ahead of Saturday’s primary, as well as in North Carolina.

Haley avoided her likely home state loss by promising to stay in the race earlier this week, setting up a potentially protracted battle for the GOP nomination.

Is Trump’s primary victory inevitable?

Haley, the former U.N. ambassador and governor of South Carolina, trailed Trump by a 34.1% to 61.7% margin in FiveThirtyEight’s final polling average for the state’s primary. The margins are worse in North Carolina and in national polls: 21% vs. 74.8% and 15.6% vs. 76.7%, respectively.

At Friday’s rally, Trump and a fleet of surrogates took aim at Haley on that front.

“The great thing about being in South Carolina tomorrow is that we are electing presidents in our state, South Carolina. (Trump) will be the presumptive nominee if he wins big tomorrow night, and it is a big mistake for everyone in our party to keep taking shots at him… This will be a two-man race next Sunday morning,” said Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican from Charleston, told the Charlotte Observer.

Mace, a former Haley ally and Trump critic who boasted of Haley’s influential endorsement when he ran for Congress, said Haley is making “a huge mistake” by continuing to attack Trump “when he will be the nominee.”

“Republican primary voters in every state in this country are overwhelmingly voting for Donald Trump,” she said.

In his speech to supporters Friday, Trump called himself the true arbiter of conservative values ​​and accused Haley of joining Democratic fundraisers in the wake of a Politico analysis that found she has received donations from thousands of donors who previously gave to President Joe Bidenthe 2020 campaign.

Her camp is also trying to boost its chances by taking advantage of South Carolina’s open primary, Politico reported, although it is “not openly courting Democrats.”

“She is essentially a Democrat… She should probably switch parties,” Trump said.

Attacking Haley with direct, biting criticism became a Trump campaign tactic after the primaries became a two-way race. Campaign advisers released a memo this week calling Haley a “whining loser determined to foster an alternate reality and refusing to come to grips with her impending political mortality.” Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara later in the week called her continued campaigning “shameful.”

“The people who know her best hate her,” the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said. said Friday at a campaign event.

But Haley has doubled down on her candidacy, vowing in a state of the race speech this week to stay in despite the high likelihood of losing. Her campaign touted a big fundraising drive in January, though she still has Trump on hand with cash, announcing “a seven-figure ad buy in Super Tuesday states.”

“We know the opportunities here, but we also know the stakes,” said Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters Friday.

Trump supporters: Haley is damaging party unity

Owen Burke of Fort Mill greets people outside Winthrop Coliseum ahead of former President Donald Trump's arrival on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

Owen Burke of Fort Mill greets people outside Winthrop Coliseum ahead of former President Donald Trump’s arrival on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

While standing in line for Friday’s Trump rally, voter Dawn Gartland said she doesn’t believe Haley’s campaign has any chance of success.

“I think it’s very selfish of her, and it’s disgusting,” the York County Republican said of Haley staying in the race. “She must drop out and our party must unite.”

Gartland pushed back on Haley’s story that she is a stronger general election candidate than Trump, saying she believes the former president can compete in November “if it’s a fair election.”

“She can’t tell us which state she’s going to win,” Gartland said of Haley.

Valerie McMillan, who came to the event from North Carolina on Friday, said she thinks Haley is “an idiot for staying in the race.”

“That’s just ridiculous,” she said.

Mitch McGregor — a Texan who has followed the Trump campaign from Iowa to New Hampshire and now South Carolina — offered a similar assessment of Haley’s chances.

“She’s going to smoke,” he said.

Can Trump beat Biden in the general election?

A key premise of Haley’s campaign is that she is a more viable candidate to take on Biden in November’s general election. She targeted both Trump and Biden because of their ages — she is 52, Trump is 77 and Biden is 81 — and accused Trump of leaving a trail of chaos in the Republican Party.

“We can continue with the same old thing or we can move on. The same old thing is not just Joe Biden, the same old thing is Donald Trump,” she said at a campaign event in Indian Land in early February. “…Are we really going to have a country in disarray while the world is on fire and a choice of two 80 year olds? Because we need someone who can work for eight years, focused and disciplined, to get us back on track.”

The former governor, who served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, has repeatedly pointed to polls showing her doing better against Biden than Trump in November.

A Marquette Law School poll released this week shows Trump with a narrow lead over Biden, 51% to 49% among registered voters and 52% to 48% among likely voters. The same poll showed Haley leading 58% to 42% among registered voters over Biden.

“Haley has just as much Republican support against Biden as Trump, while getting a significant crossover vote from Democrats. Independents back Haley by a significant margin…Her strength among Republicans, combined with the ability to attract more Democratic and independent voters than Trump, explains her stronger overall support against Biden than Trump,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette survey.

Other national polls have shown similar results, but Haley’s path to a nomination remains murky.

When asked by the Associated Press which primaries she can win, the candidate focused on Trump’s ongoing legal troubles.

“Instead of asking me which states I’m going to win, why don’t we ask how he’s going to win the general election after spending an entire year in court?” she said.

At Friday’s Trump event, Mace predicted that Haley won’t be able to garner enough Republican support to win, despite her focus on November.

“The problem with her data is that that’s not the basis… Whatever Haley’s calculation is, the calculation right now is that Republican voters want Donald Trump as their candidate. That’s basic math,” she said.

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