Trump’s absolute dominance in the Iowa primary, narrow win in New Hampshire, seems to have instilled an aura of invincibility around his primary campaign. …writes TN Ashok
Nikki Haley, the fiercest challenger to ex-president Donald Trump in the GOP 2024 primary, banks on the most unlikeliest of ally, Democrats, who might flip, to vote for her on her home turf South Carolina, to stop Trump’s bull run in the presidential race.
Nikki Haley, the former UN ambassador appointed by Trump himself, will try to slow down Trump’s seemingly inevitable march toward the GOP nomination. Haley is banking on a bloc of home state voters she’s never needed to court before, the Democrats, media reports said.
Trump’s absolute dominance in the Iowa primary, narrow win in New Hampshire, seems to have instilled an aura of invincibility around his primary campaign. Haley hopes to pierce that and salvage an sense of viability past South Carolina, and she is planning to expand her coalition beyond anti-Trump Republicans and independent-minded voters – a task that would almost certainly include at least small pockets of Democrats not sold on re-electing President Joe Biden or those willing to switch sides to try to stop Trump from getting the GOP nomination, NBC reported.
The political maths is being made more complicated by the incentive for Biden and Democrats to generate a “monster turnout” after making South Carolina the party’s first sanctioned nominating contest, and there is less evidence of any cross voting in the Palmetto State.
“Democrats do not vote in Republican primaries here, just like Republicans won’t vote in Democratic primaries,” said former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson. “We tried and tried and tried, I spent money doing it. We found there was not much there.”
Haley says she does not “have to win” her home state of South Carolina but needs “momentum”. In both New Hampshire and Iowa, Haley faced criticism from opponents that she was targeting Democrats to offset her disadvantage with Republican primary voters, an idea her campaign has rejected. Officials have not, however, disputed that they are trying to expand the Republican base.
“The Republican Party has to be a story of addition again, not subtraction. Trump lost races we should have won in 2018, 2020 and 2022,” Haley spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said. “If Republicans want to start winning again, we have to start bringing in new voters, including conservatives, independents and Democrats who are fed up with Joe Biden.”
Some Republicans feel there are still three weeks between the Democrats’ primary on Saturday and the Republicans’ February 24 primary that creates a unique opportunity for Haley to pick up voters who might not ordinarily vote in a GOP primary.
In South Carolina, people can vote to take part in either party’s primary. So if a voter does not cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, Haley’s team will have three weeks to crunch the numbers and come up with a plan to target the exact set of voters who have yet to vote in the state, NBC said.
“Haley should absolutely look to turn out every voter possible in the primary, and with the democratic Presidential Primary being held three weeks prior, there should be ample time to identify those who did not vote in the primary and encourage them to vote in the Republican Primary,” said Alex Stroman, a former executive director of the South Carolina GOP.
He said South Carolina not requiring party registration “gives us the best candidates to win general elections.” Haley needs to juice turnout among those independents, moderates and true Republicans to improve on her results in New Hampshire and launch her into Michigan and then Super Tuesday states,” Stroman said referring to the March 5 round of primaries in 16 states.
Jay Parmley, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said they have heard from some Democrats planning to vote for Haley. “Yeah, we have heard that is happening. It might be smart for Haley, but it’s stupid for Democrats to vote in the Republican primary,” he said.
“She is just as bad as Donald Trump. My call to Democrats is, ‘If you didn’t vote for her as governor, why you would vote for her as the nominee.?”
“We are doing everything we can to talk to Democrats and get them to vote. Now we have some saying they may vote for Haley to try and stop Trump,” Parmley added. “That’s just stupid’.”
Haley has portrayed herself as the eager beaver politician ready to take head on the establishment in both political parties, an opportunity she has in her home state. Both the Biden and Trump camps have signalled to Haley to drop out so that they can turn their focus to a general election matchup they view as already set. On the night of the New Hampshire primary, Biden said in a statement that it is “now clear” that Trump will win the GOP nomination.
Democratic strategists say they expect many of their party’s voters to cast ballots for Biden on Saturday, making them ineligible to participate in the Republican primary three weeks later. Moreover, there’s little love lost between Haley and Democrats in the state she governed from the political right.
“There is no major effort by Democrats to vote for Nikki Haley. She was not good for us when she was governor. So there’s no need to think she would be good for us as president,” said Clay Middleton, a long-time Democratic operative who is serving as a senior adviser to the Biden campaign in South Carolina.
‘Our goal as a campaign is to make sure that we contact voters and show them, remind them, what the president has done for South Carolinians and for African Americans, in particular, and show that appreciation by voting on February 3.”
Middleton noted that Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and “a slew” of top surrogates have visited the state in recent weeks, a group that includes Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, a South Carolina native, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. Biden spoke at a ‘First in the Nation’ dinner Saturday in Columbia, which highlighted his decision to make South Carolina’s primary the opening contest on the party’s calendar.