The South Carolina primary results actually contain some bad news for Trump.

The South Carolina primary results actually contain some bad news for Trump.
The South Carolina primary results actually contain some bad news for Trump.

Another Republican primary is in the books, and it looks much like every other contest we’ve seen so far. Media organizations projected that Donald Trump would win South Carolina within seconds of polls closing on Saturday, and Trump delivered his victory speech just minutes after that. Aside from the genuine treat of watching Trump supporters the night did not make for compelling television.

And as with every other contest, what says about Trump’s strength heading towards November depends entirely on the framing.

Looked at one way, Trump made history, becoming the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to sweep the first four early states, with comfortable victories in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. His vote share in each contest never dipped below 50 percent. Among self-identified Republicans in these contests—who make up the bulk of, uh, Republican primary voters—Trump leaves no room for his competition. Those identifying as Republicans made up 68 percent of the South Carolina primary electorate, per exit polls, and Trump won 70 percent of them. His last remaining challenger, Nikki Haley, competing in her home state where she served as a two-term governor, only earned 29 percent of Republicans’ votes. Haley has vowed to press on through Super Tuesday on March 5, but she still has no path to the nomination barring a deus ex machina.

But 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, 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.

Trump underperformed polling with his margin of victory, too. The FiveThirtyEight polling average showed a 28-point Trump lead, and he won by 20. While Trump came fairly close to hitting his projected vote share, Haley’s support was underestimated, suggesting her rigorous campaigning over the last month was effective on the margins. Haley, according to exit polls, won two-thirds of voters who decided this month. Unfortunately for her, only 16 percent of voters decided this month.

Trump’s weaknesses in the exit polls will ring familiar. Haley won independents, those who aren’t evangelical Christians, college graduates, first-time voters, moderates, non-gun owners, and those who oppose a national abortion ban. Among the third of the primary electorate who do not think Trump would be fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime, Haley won 87 percent. This is too much of a moderate, white-collar coalition for Haley to win a Republican primary in the era of Trump. But come November, it’s a bloc that will decide the 2024 election.

“I’m an accountant. I know that 40 percent is not 50 percent,” Haley said in her Saturday night speech. “But I also know 40 percent is not some tiny group.”

Trump, meanwhile, said in his speech that “it was an even bigger win than we anticipated” and he had “never seen the Republican Party so unified,” both of which are questionable assertions. He did not mention Haley by name, a sharp detour from his last major victory speech in New Hampshire a month ago. (Indeed, his advisers likely insisted he speak early in the night so that he wouldn’t get in a lather watching her speech.)

The intra-party pressure on Haley to drop out has been loud for a month, and will only get louder. She’s intensified her criticisms of Trump as the campaign has gone on, to Democrats’ delight. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has cheekily called Haley “one of our better surrogates” and encouraged her to stay in the race.

“I’m enjoying this primary,” Newsom said. “And I hope it continues, so I wish her luck.”

By staying in this long and taking it to Trump harder by the day, Haley credibly debunked the theory that she’s only angling for a vice presidential bid. What is she angling for, though? Don’t for a second believe that Haley, an ambitious, long-time finger-in-the-wind politician, has chosen to sacrifice her political career on the altar of protest. She’ll get around to endorsing Trump not long after she ends her campaign, which she could do just after Super Tuesday. Should Trump lose in November to an unpopular incumbent who would be 86 at the end of his second term, though, Haley will have been the runner-up who can argue, I warned you. And maybe, after a second Trump loss to Biden, 2028 Republican primary voters might have a shift in values ​​towards electability.

Or they’ll just nominate Trump again.

The article is in Marathi

Tags: South Carolina primary results bad news Trump


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