Nikki Haley, a contender in the GOP primary, faces a challenging road ahead with less than 3 percent of delegates awarded so far. While she emphasizes that it’s still early, the primary calendar poses a significant hurdle, with over 70 percent of delegates set to be awarded within four weeks after the South Carolina primary. This acceleration could be challenging for Haley, given the upcoming states’ unfriendly electorate.
Haley has been investing time and money in individual states, but the primary calendar demands a different approach. The structural problem involves turning out moderates and independents who supported her in New Hampshire in states where they are less abundant.
Despite the door technically being open for her to challenge former President Donald Trump, the window of opportunity is closing rapidly.
Some Republicans, including RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, have declared the primary effectively over, prompting discussions about calling Trump the presumptive nominee. While the term is typically used when a candidate has won the majority of delegates, Trump’s early victories and polling leads position him favorably.
Haley’s campaign remains optimistic about competing in Super Tuesday states, emphasizing her past success in winning gubernatorial elections in South Carolina. They also express confidence in Michigan’s primary and highlight more favorable demographics in certain March 5 Super Tuesday states.
Super Tuesday holds particular significance this year, with 16 states and territories voting, constituting 36 percent of total delegates. This includes California and Texas, the two most populous states.
While both are not technically winner-take-all, they are likely to function that way in a two-candidate race. Trump’s strength among registered Republicans in these states could further solidify his lead.
The Michigan primary, a focus for the Haley campaign, comes with a caveat as most delegates will be awarded at a party convention. Even if Haley were to win the primary, Trump could secure more delegates from friendly party insiders.
Trump has the potential to build a massive delegate lead by Super Tuesday, with projections based on polling showing him ahead of Haley outside the states that have already voted. A privately conducted poll in South Carolina indicated a significant lead for Trump, and the national polling average has him ahead by 56 points.
As the campaign progresses, Haley’s team faces increasing pressure to adapt to evolving dynamics and find effective strategies to compete on a broader scale. The challenges, both structural and political, make the path to securing the nomination more daunting for Nikki Haley.