Haley has hit the MAGA wall
Initially, I favored Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. After his campaign began to flounder, I briefly entertained South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. I finally settled on former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. My only consistency was a hope to have someone other than President Trump as the Republican standard bearer for the 2024 presidential election.
Haley has it all – experience as a governor and the UN ambassador. She is good on her feet. In virtually all polling, she performed the best against President Biden. She would have given Republicans the first woman President. By any pre-Trump political standard, she would be on her way to the GOP nomination.
It now appears inevitable – as much as anything in life and politics is ever inevitable – that Trump will coast to a relatively easy victory in the upcoming primaries – and will officially be the Republican candidate for President.
Haley lost the Iowa caucuses to Trump – coming in a disappointing third behind DeSantis, and partly because of DeSantis. And now she has lost the New Hampshire primary. In both cases, she underperformed. She could have survived with the anticipated second place win in Iowa. And a win in New Hampshire could have gotten her back on track as a serious threat to Trump. A close second – within five points of Trump – might have provided enough wind under her wings to credibly move on to her home state of South Carolina.
Her loss in New Hampshire, however, was not close enough to claim any level of victory. She lost the state by 54.6 percent to 43.2 percent – a humbling 11.4-point margin. A couple more points and it would have qualified as a “landslide victory” for Trump.
In what sounded more like a victory speech, Haley conceded New Hampshire to Trump but promised to fight on. Unfortunately, her enthusiasm was undermined by reality. Oh, she can carry her campaign to the Palmetto State – where she was once a very popular governor. But that was then, and this is now.
Polls have consistently showed Haley losing to Trump in South Carolina – and by a wide margin. Both of South Carolina’s United States senators have endorsed Trump – as has most of the House delegation. It would take a political miracle for Haley to win in South Carolina. And even then, she would be hard pressed to overtake Trump in the remainder of the primary elections.
If she does take her campaign to primary election day in South Carolina, it will almost likely be the end of the trail. Like baseball, for Haley it is three strikes and you’re out. The donors will close their wallets. Political staff will be updating their resumes. The enthusiasm of her voters will wane.
For all intents and purposes, the primary season is over. There is always 2028. Both she and DeSantis could be facing off in that race. But for 2024, it is Trump – barring some unforeseen event. Just as it is Biden for the Democrats – barring some unforeseen event. And the American voters will be left with the two candidates they did not want.
So, there ‘tis.