Former President Donald Trump defeated the former governor of South Carolina. nikki haley in his home state’s primary on Saturday, keeping him on track for his third consecutive Republican presidential nomination and a November rematch with President Biden, the Democrat who beat him in 2020.

The Associated Press called South Carolina for Trump at 7:00 pm EST, just as the last polls there closed.

Haley says she will continue campaigning despite loss

Previous candidates have tended to drop out of the race after losing their home state; In 2016, for example, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio ended his candidacy the night Trump bested him there.

But Haley was clear, both before and after Saturday’s primary: “I’m not going anywhere,” she promised, at least not yet.

“On Sunday I will continue to run for president,” Haley, who served as a United Nations ambassador during the Trump administration, said earlier this week. “I campaign every day until the last person votes.”

“In the 10 days after South Carolina, 21 other states and territories will vote,” he continued. “People have the right to have their voices heard. And they deserve a real election, not a Soviet-style election where there is only one candidate and they get 99% of the votes.”

Nikki Haley, Republican presidential candidate and former US ambassador to the United Nations, looks on after casting her vote in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary election on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA, on February 24 2024. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Nikki Haley looks on after casting her vote in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary election on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. February 24, 2024. Reuters/Brian Snyder

Understanding Haley’s Argument

Haley is right. In a presidential primary election, candidates compete in a months-long calendar of primaries and caucuses, state by state. Whoever gets the most votes in a specific state usually receives the most delegates, and whoever is first to collect the majority of the total available delegates (or whoever remains after everyone else has withdrawn) becomes the “presumptive” candidate of the party.

But second-place candidates can also win delegates. Despite Trump’s substantial lead in the delegate count, neither man is close to the 1,215 they need to clinch the Republican nomination. And even then, the race won’t technically be over until the final states vote and delegates formalize the nomination at their party’s summer convention, which, for the GOP, begins July 15 in Milwaukee.

However, Haley’s loss in South Carolina (more so than her previous losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada) makes it clear that her path to the nomination will only get narrower from here on out.

Haley had every advantage in the Palmetto State. She was born in Bamberg, a small town 55 miles south of Columbia, the state capital. He graduated from Clemson. He served three terms in the state legislature and two terms in the governor’s mansion, where his approval rating reached 80%.

Haley, who visited Iowa and New Hampshire last winter, often spoke of her “sweet state of South Carolina” as a kind of firewall, a place that could propel her native daughter into future primaries with renewed momentum.

And true to that vision, Haley campaigned heavily there in recent weeks, slamming Van Halen’s “Right Now” while her “Beast of the Southeast” bus tour reached stops across the state, where she disembarked and criticized Trump. (by his attitude). towards Russia, for his chaotic temperament, for his costly legal problems) more aggressively than ever.

Overall, Haley’s campaign and its two allied super PACs lost $8.4 million in advertising in South Carolina, according to Bloomberg. Trump’s team spent almost nothing.

A woman with a dog lines up to cast her vote in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary election, at Jennie Moore Elementary School, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, U.S., February 24, 2024. REUTERS /Evelyn Hockstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A woman with a dog waits in line to cast her vote in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. February 24, 2024. Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein

What’s next in the Republican primary battle?

This same pattern will be repeated with increasing frequency in the next phase of the Republican Party nomination race. After South Carolina comes Super Tuesday on March 5, when 15 states and 1 territory will take part, including the grand prizes for delegates from California and Texas.

Haley’s team has argued that some of these states hold open primaries, like South Carolina. But as the Palmetto State demonstrated, registered Republicans still dominate the party’s primary electorate, and in most places, Haley will have an even harder time convincing them than she did in her home state.

In Michigan, the next state on the calendar, Trump led by 60 points in the only public poll released this year. In California, the largest state voting on Super Tuesday, Trump leads by 52 points. And nationally, the former president is leading his former ambassador to the UN by 79% to 14% among likely Republican primary voters, according to the most recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

Winner-take-all races, in which the candidate who gets the most votes gets all the delegates, are also about to become more common.

All of which means Trump’s lead is likely to explode over the next month. In a memo shared with reporters Tuesday, top Trump advisers estimated that even if Haley continues to perform as well as he did in New Hampshire, his strongest state So far, Trump will secure the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination on March 19. If Haley underperforms at her Granite State levels, they added, Trump will hit the 1,215 mark a week early.

Haley would be free to continue running at that point. Last month, her campaign and her super PAC collectively raised $23.6 million, $7.4 million more than Trump’s. As long as anti-Trump donors continue to contribute to Haley’s candidacy, she can continue to voice her concerns and hope, perhaps, for some seismic legal change that will upend her career.

“Instead of asking me which states I’m going to win, why don’t we ask how he’s going to win a general election after spending a full year in court?” Haley said in an interview earlier this week with the Associated Press.

“People don’t look six months from now when these court cases have taken place. He will be in the courtroom throughout March, April, May and June. How can you win a general election when these cases continue and the sentences keep coming?

By Sam