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The keys to Haley's fight against Trump in the South Carolina primaries

2024-02-24T19:32:50.615Z

Highlights: The keys to Haley's fight against Trump in the South Carolina primaries. Although she is known in the state for her performance as governor, it will be a challenge to face the favorite, who arrives with a margin of more than 20 points ahead. Trump is looking to continue his undefeated streak in the 2024 primary, while Haley hopes her home state can help fuel a comeback. The local Republican Party threw its support behind Trump on Monday, days before the state's Republican primary. The state winner will take all the at-large delegates, while the winner of each congressional district will get three delegates. There are a total of 50 delegates at stake.


Although she is known in the state for her performance as governor, it will be a challenge to face the favorite, who arrives with a margin of more than 20 points ahead.


By Allan Smith and Matt Dixon -

NBC News

Twenty years ago, Nikki Haley ran a campaign against a veteran who was a political force within her party and won, launching her political career and setting the stage for her run for governor in South Carolina.

But this time, the voters of the district and the county she represented as a state legislator do not believe she is about to spring another surprise when she faces off against former President Donald Trump this Saturday.

Polls for voting in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary opened at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time and will close at 7:00

p.m.

There are a total of 50 delegates at stake.

The state winner will take all the at-large delegates, while the winner of each congressional district will get three delegates.

The election is open to all registered voters.

But people who voted in the Democratic presidential primary on February 3 cannot participate in the Republican Party primary.

Trump is looking to continue his undefeated streak in the 2024 primary, while Haley hopes her home state can help fuel a comeback.

[Trump promotes a “totally unfounded” conspiracy theory against Nikki Haley for being the daughter of immigrants]

Dave Mauldin, an unaffiliated Lexington voter who will vote for Haley “just to try to spite [Trump],” said he expected “the Trump wave will be like a tsunami.”

In fact, the local Republican Party threw its support behind Trump on Monday, days before the state's Republican primary.

"Lexington County Republicans made it clear that they support President Trump in the First in the South primary and want his voice to be heard," Mark Weber, chairman of the Lexington County Republican Party, said in a statement.

"Our party and our committees are taking a proactive stance to address current issues, and decided that we must unite behind Donald Trump to end the destruction of the Biden Administration as soon as possible."

It's clear that a lot has changed in the two decades since Haley unseated state Rep. Larry Koon, who at the time was the longest-serving member of the state House.

Those changes reflect Trump's takeover of the Republican Party across the state and much of the country.

In 2016, Trump won his Lexington County primary by about 6 points over Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a closer race.

It will be a challenge for Haley to get close to that margin against Trump, even though she is the favorite daughter not only of the state but also of the county.

"There are old friends of hers in Lexington County who will go to the polls and remember how she performed for them in the state House, both as a legislator and as governor," said Rob Godfrey, a Republican strategist and Haley's former deputy chief of staff. when she was governor.

"But like many other regions of the state that are deeply conservative, she faces a strong challenge, which is trying to attract voters who have felt comfortable voting for Donald Trump."

An important county

Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of the state, has become one of the most formidable strongholds of the Republican Party in the state, regularly providing Republican candidates with large vote totals and margins of victory;

In 2020, Trump beat Joe Biden by 20 points here.

[False claims question Nikki Haley's eligibility to serve as president of the United States]

It has become a county to watch during primary nights and, this time, its interest has been increased by its close ties to Haley.

"It's an absolutely important county that has become even more important in recent election cycles," Godfrey said.

He added: "Lexington should be part of that benchmark group of counties" across the state.

Haley's roots in the area are clear.

She won her last state bid in Lexington County by 32 points in the 2014 general election for governor, and a large number of her supporters have ties to the area, including state Rep. Nathan Ballentine.

"I hope he has a decent performance and a good performance," Ballentine said.

"I don't expect her to win. But in the same sense, if I woke up tomorrow and she ended up winning that county, it wouldn't be a total surprise."

Others are less optimistic about their chances.

Looking ahead, Mauldin saw Trump's literal demise as Haley's only path to the nomination.

"Well, you have the cheeseburger falling from the sky theory," he said.

"[And] something could happen with some of his trials."

[Biden calls Trump “a threat to democracy”]

The importance of margin

Polls show Trump leading by more than 20 percentage points statewide, including a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday that shows the former president with a 28-point lead over Haley, while a Winthrop University poll showed Trump winning by 36 points.

But there is a wild card in play that could reduce those margins: transversal voters.

Haley's allies have reached out to left-wing voters who did not participate in the Feb. 3 Democratic primary, calling for them to vote for Haley on Saturday.

A recent email obtained by NBC News that was sent to a Democratic voter who did not vote in the party's presidential primary earlier this month said: "Your vote can make a difference."

"Please participate by voting for Nikki Haley and make your voice heard," continued the email, sent by super PAC Stand for America Inc.

Additionally, the Democratic primary had relatively low turnout, with only about 130,000 voters, leaving plenty of voters on the table for Saturday's Republican primary.

These primaries are open, allowing any registered voter to participate unless they voted in this month's Democratic race.

Although Trump won a substantial victory in New Hampshire, the margins were close because Haley was able to attract moderate voters by more than 50 points, although Trump defeated her with conservatives.

While it's essentially inconceivable that large numbers of crossover voters could cut into a 30-point Trump lead, they could make the race a little more interesting.

[Haley questions whether Trump is “mentally fit” for the presidency after confusing her with Pelosi]

Former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, a Haley supporter, said one thing that could end up "shaking" that Trump lead is the 400,000 new people who have moved to South Carolina since the last GOP primary. that were disputed in 2016.

There is very little data on how that group votes in South Carolina, which could be a boost for Haley.

"I'm betting on it," Dawson said.

"That could end up shaking that 30-point lead in the polls that Trump keeps talking about."

The participation

With Trump holding such a commanding lead not just in South Carolina, but in most states that have been surveyed, the dynamics of Saturday's primary are very different from 2016. But what could that mean for the electoral participation?

In 2020, the South Carolina Republican Party canceled its primary to help Trump's reelection bid, and in 2016, nearly 740,000 people turned out to vote in the GOP nomination contest.

"The 2016 number was massive. (...) If the turnout is, say, 850,000-900,000, it would be incredible," said former South Carolina Republican Party executive director Alex Stroman.

The level of turnout this year will be a key barometer for several things, including Haley's attempts to court Democrats.

"Is it possible that a presidential primary in 2024 with a former president facing off against the state's popular former governor would surpass [2016 levels]?" he said.

"I don't think that will happen, but if it does, you would have to think that a substantial part of them are Democrats."

[Nikki Haley asks the Secret Service for protection due to an increase in threats against her]

He said lower turnout would likely mean Democrats didn't cross over in significant numbers, and there's also the possibility that some Trump voters will stay home because he is the overwhelming favorite.

"Do Trump voters think he's so far up there that they just don't need to vote?"

Stroman said.

"I don't think so, but it's a possibility."

Good weather is also expected for primary day, but Dawson said that can "cut both ways."

"Some people might go fishing, I don't know..." he said.

"We'll find out tomorrow. What I can say is that low turnout is good for Donald Trump and high turnout will be good for Nikki Haley."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2024-02-24

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