Nikki Haley’s Loss in Nevada Highlights Her Dilemma with Trump

Haley’s Nevada loss underscores her Trump dilemma

Nikki Haley’s defeat in Nevada’s primary on Tuesday deals a significant blow to her candidacy as she heads towards a showdown with former President Trump in South Carolina.

Despite being viewed as a long shot, the former U.N. ambassador had seen a surge in financial support in recent months, raising hopes of narrowing the gap with Trump in her home state’s primary on February 24th.

However, her loss to the “none of these candidates” option in Nevada has intensified pressure on Haley to either withdraw soon despite the attention from media and donors or risk a potentially humiliating defeat to Trump in her home state and beyond.

GOP strategist Brian Seitchik commented on Haley’s defeat, stating it adds to the evidence of Trump’s enduring dominance over the GOP. The “none of these candidates” option, required on ballots in the primary, was projected to receive more than double Haley’s votes, according to Decision Desk HQ.

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley (Credits: Bloomberg)

Although winning the state-run primary would have been symbolic for Haley since Nevada’s GOP plans to allocate its 26 delegates based on party-run caucuses, her loss stands out because she was the only top active name on the primary ballot after Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out.

In contrast, Trump will appear as the only significant candidate in Thursday’s caucuses.

Republican strategist Ron Bonjean described Haley’s loss as embarrassing, especially in the context of Nevada’s confusing nominating process. The Nevada GOP’s decision to ignore the presidential preference primary required by state law and proceed with its caucuses excluded any candidate whose name was on the primary ballot.

Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, emphasized that the campaign had not invested resources in Nevada and criticized the caucus system as rigged. Despite the loss, Haley’s spokesperson, Olivia Perez-Cubas, reaffirmed their focus on South Carolina and beyond.

However, some viewed Haley’s decision not to invest in Nevada as a potential misstep. Observers noted that while candidates couldn’t participate in both contests, state law allowed registered Republicans to cast ballots in both, potentially allowing Trump supporters to cast protest votes against Haley.

Republican strategist Doug Heye viewed the “none” win as a boost for Trump, emphasizing the absence of alternatives listed on the ballot.

Haley’s loss underscores Trump’s power within the party and indicates a challenging path for her in South Carolina, where polling shows Trump leading.

Despite the setback, some argue that Haley didn’t have much to lose in the Nevada primary. Republican strategist Rina Shah suggested that Haley didn’t need a win in Nevada to sustain her campaign.

With Trump expected to secure victory in the Thursday caucuses, Haley faces an uphill battle in South Carolina and beyond. Polling averages indicate a significant lead for Trump in both South Carolina and nationally.

While some strategists suggest Haley could salvage her campaign with a strong showing in South Carolina, others argue that only an unlikely outright win would prevent embarrassment.

Haley remains the last candidate challenging Trump for the Republican nomination, following the withdrawal of other contenders such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Despite questions about her candidacy’s viability, Haley’s campaign insists on continuing. They rolled out a new ad in South Carolina and scheduled a campaign event in California for Wednesday.

As the race progresses, uncertainty looms over Haley’s future in the campaign, with some Republicans urging her to withdraw to consolidate support behind Trump. However, Haley’s campaign seems determined to press on, at least until Super Tuesday.

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