February 26, 2024

South Carolina Primary

Donald Trump won South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday, easily beating former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state and further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination. Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, adding to previous wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” AP News

Both sides argue that Haley’s continued candidacy is likely to hurt Trump’s campaign:

“[Haley] could travel the path of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Democratic presidential candidate who congenially yielded to the eventual party nominee in 2020. Or she could follow the road of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate who dogged the party nominee for months in 2016, bruising her, draining her resources and damaging, fatefully, her standing with the party base… For now, she’s opted to take the less hospitable road — more Bernie ’16 than ’20. That could be very bad news for Trump

“In 2020, Joe Biden won about 87% of Sanders supporters in November, according to estimates by Vanderbilt University political scientist John Sides and two colleagues. In 2016, by contrast, only about 79% of Sanders supporters voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election. Worse, Sanders received a much larger share of votes in 2016 — more than 4 in 10 — than he did in 2020. So Clinton’s November shortfall was even more significant… ‘[Trump’s] got a very hard ceiling,’ [a former GOP political director] said. ‘If Haley can move that ceiling three or four points downward, that’s devastating.’”

Francis Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times

“The longer Haley stays in the race, and the more she attacks Trump, the longer it will take donors to consolidate behind the Republican nominee. Haley’s campaign also achieves this through a circular route by supporting an anti-Trump, anti-populist media ecosystem. Haley may not enjoy support from Republican voters, but she enjoys respect among token Republicans or conservatives in the media…

“The Trump-Biden rematch is already on, and Biden needs to suppress the enthusiasm of Republican donors to maximize the effectiveness of the lawfare the left is waging against Trump. Nikki Haley is a cog in the machine. She knows it, and she must hope that if Biden can beat Trump in November, her stock will rise… The only question is how long donors who still think of themselves as Republicans and see Biden as a disaster will allow her to keep doing it. Their patience is surely running short.”

Daniel McCarthy, American Conservative

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“Trump isn’t your run-of-the-mill non-incumbent, is he? He’s a former president with the near-total backing of the new party establishment. He’s about to put his daughter-in-law in charge of the central party organ, because he can. Congressional Republicans quiver at his every utterance. And still, hundreds of thousands of voters, and a hearty 40 percent of the electorate in Saturday’s primary, voted for his opponent, a supposedly globalist Republican-in-name-only traitor to the cause…

“He may have all but secured the nomination by running an incumbent’s campaign. But the actual incumbent, [Biden], won 96 percent of the vote in the South Carolina Democratic primary in early February. I invite you to imagine the punditry had President Biden ceded 40 percent to Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson—or even 10 percent.”

Jim Newell, Slate

Why does the Republican base have such unwavering faith in the man? Trump’s celebrity charisma alone isn’t enough of an explanation. Otherwise, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would bestride the GOP like a colossus. Nor is Trump’s fawning coverage in the conservative media. Fox News has repeatedly tried to turn the Republican base away from Trump and toward figures like DeSantis, only to have to kiss the ring when the voters didn’t follow their lead…

“Trump’s cult is the product of his unique ability to channel the cultural grievances at the heart of the current Republican party. Again and again, social scientists found that the best predictor of Trump support among Republican voters is the degree to which they feel discomfort with the changing nature of American demographics and social norms… [This is what] we must wrestle with in order to truly appreciate the stakes in the coming general election.”

Zack Beauchamp, Vox

From the Right

“It is the end of the road for Nikki Haley… [She] has won nowhere, including a Nevada primary she lost by 30 points to ‘none of these candidates.’ Trump, who didn’t compete in that contest, won Nevada’s separate caucuses, which actually awarded delegates. She is not favored to win anywhere in the foreseeable future. Polling in Michigan and many of the Super Tuesday states suggests the results will get increasingly worse for Haley from here…

“Republicans do have a history of rewarding past runners-up with the nomination in the future… But a protracted primary fight with Trump won’t set Haley up well for an attempt at securing the GOP nomination in 2028, or even as an ‘in case of emergency, break glass’ option later this year. Reagan and the others preceded their nominations by finishing second in genuinely competitive primary contests, which the 2024 race is not…

“It has been difficult for Republicans to run against Trump this year without being perceived as running against the GOP base. That is the position in which Haley now finds herself. If she plans to help Trump win in November or have a personal comeback in the future, she should heed her home state’s voters and pull the plug.”

W. James Antle III, CNN

Some argue, “Pulling in support from independents and even moderate Democrats will be key to winning the presidential election… A recent poll from Marquette Law School found that in a general election matchup against President Joe Biden, Haley would blow him out of the water by 16 points (58-42%). Compare that with Trump’s 2-point lead over Biden (51-49%) Multiple surveys have shown the same thing… Republicans have a sure thing in Nikki Haley. Yet they can’t move past Donald Trump.”

Ingrid Jacques, USA Today

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