Nikki Haley preparing for South Carolina primary against Trump, faces longshot

 February 18, 2024

Nikki Haley is bracing for what could potentially be her final showdown in her home state of South Carolina.

As the former governor of the Palmetto State, Haley is gearing up for the GOP presidential primary scheduled for Feb. 24.

The situation

She finds herself in direct competition with former President Trump, who has thus far dominated the race, having already dispatched other notable contenders like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

Despite Trump's commanding lead, Haley, 52, remains undeterred, continuing her campaign efforts—a move that has irked Team Trump.

A Trump insider dismissed Haley's efforts, likening them to the actions of a "crazy stalker" and suggesting her polling numbers in her home state, down by 30 points, make her campaign efforts seem futile.

The polls

Polling data from Winthrop University this week further underscores the challenge Haley faces, with 65% of likely voters in South Carolina expressing support for Trump in the primary.

While Haley has tempered expectations for a victory, acknowledging the need to improve upon her performance in New Hampshire where she secured only 43% of the vote, she remains resolute in her campaign efforts.

With over $14.5 million in cash on hand, her campaign committee appears financially equipped to continue the fight.

“Trump is going to win I would say by probably 25 to 30 points. She’s probably wins the black majority counties and she might win the city of Charleston,” said Ryan Girdusky, a longtime GOP consultant.

“She has nothing to lose by continuing and keeping her name on the ballot. She’s got some money in reserves,” Girdusky said. “If something happens to Trump, she can become the only viable name on the ballot in a lot of these states. And if he wins, then she can go work for private equity.”

Haley sticking around

Despite the prevailing sentiment that Trump is the presumptive nominee, some speculate that Haley may persist in the race even after South Carolina.

GOP consultant Ryan Girdusky suggests that Haley could serve as a contingency plan should unforeseen circumstances force Trump's withdrawal from the race.

With her financial resources and potential appeal in certain demographics, Haley's candidacy may endure, offering a viable alternative should the need arise.

Haley's future in the race remains uncertain, with factors such as Trump's performance and unforeseen developments potentially shaping her trajectory.

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