Nikki Haley, campaigning, Adel, Iowa
Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign on March 6, 2024. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Donald Trump continues to bleed primary votes to a candidate who has long since dropped out of the race. What does his Nikki Haley problem mean for the outcome of the November election?

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Imagine playing a game of football and leading 28-3 at the half. The other team quits, and the final score is 49-10. In the end, that seems like a resounding win. But how in the world does a team that isn’t even on the field score a touchdown?

That is the question Donald Trump’s campaign must be asking… and will have to answer before the election or risk a rude awakening. 

On Tuesday night, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley once again did surprisingly well for a candidate who dropped out of the race a couple of months ago.

In Maryland, with 83 percent of the votes in, Haley received 1 in 5 votes. In Nebraska, Trump also barely cleared 80 percent. He did best in West Virginia, where Haley did not manage to crack 10 percent. 

However, that last result has been a rarity since she dropped out. 

Time after time, Republicans are showing up to vote for her in what can only be seen as a rebuke of the former president. 

That won’t make a difference in Maryland, which Trump will lose, or in Indiana, where he will win. But it could be the key to victory or defeat in states like Indiana. 

It doesn’t help the former president that Haley has still not endorsed him. At this point, it would make no sense for her to do so. If he loses yet again, she can present herself as a non-Trump alternative in 2028. That would really set her apart from all of the other potential GOP hopefuls who are bending over backwards to lick his boots… like those lackeys who are making the trip to New York to help the former president circumvent a gag order. 

On the other hand, Haley shouldn’t assume that 20 percent of Republicans in Maryland are actually voting for her and that she can count on their support in the future. Some certainly do support her, but most are probably voting against Trump. 

We’re also seeing this a bit on the Democratic side. In between losing voters to a smattering of other candidates who have found their way onto the primary ballots, and an “uncommitted” option if available, President Joe Biden usually gets the support of 85-90 percent of Democrats. 

That’s not great… but it’s better than Trump does.

These figures also show that voters protesting the candidate of their own party will make a huge difference in November. 

For example, will conservative suburban moms hold their noses and vote for Trump because they buy into his claims of providing families with a higher disposable income? And will progressive college students still turn out for Biden even though they disagree with his foreign policy? 

We do not know the answer to these questions yet. However, actual vote counts provide a lot more information at this stage in the race than worthless polls. 

And the numbers don’t lie: Trump continues to have a Nikki Haley problem.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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