Analysis: South Carolina even more pivotal for Haley’s uphill quest


(The Center Square) – Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, defeated by former President Donald Trump in New Hampshire on Tuesday, has vowed to continue her quest for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election.

The voters in the state she once led may be the last remaining hope. While Nevada is next for Republicans, Haley isn’t on the caucus ballot Feb. 8. That makes her home state of South Carolina next on Feb. 24.

“New Hampshire is first in the nation,” Haley said in remarks after Tuesday’s vote. “It’s not last in the nation. This race is far from over. There are dozens of states left to go. And the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina.”

In New Hampshire, Trump picked up 54.4% of the vote to Haley’s 43.3%. Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate to win Iowa and New Hampshire since the states became the first two on the primary calendar in 1976.

In a statement, Americans for Prosperity Action Senior Advisor Emily Seidel said the “results in New Hampshire show that Nikki Haley is closing the gap and that she is the clear alternative for voters who are ready to close the book on the toxic Biden-Trump political era.” However, she acknowledges it “is still an uphill battle.”

“Now all eyes turn to South Carolina, where she has a steeper road ahead,” Seidel said. Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Haley.

Keith Nahigian, president of Nahigian Strategies, a Republican and a veteran campaign strategist, noted that South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, U.S. Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham and many of the state’s U.S. House members, all Republicans, have endorsed Trump.

“South Carolina is Trump country, and Nikki Haley would need to take it back from him,” Nahigian told The Center Square via email. “Haley would need a win in New Hampshire and then a win in South Carolina in order to keep moving to other states like Michigan and Nevada where she has even fewer resources.

“Losing will put real pressure on her to drop out,” Nahigian added. “Most of the Trump opposition candidates are young and don’t want to damage a potential future run for POTUS because they looked so beatable. They could live to fight another day.”

Zee Cohen-Sanchez, founder and executive director of Sole Strategies, which promotes Democratic campaigns, said New Hampshire’s outcome will influence voting in the South Carolina primary. Before the New Hampshire vote was finalized, Cohen-Sanchez said if Haley comes within 8-10 points of Trump, she is still viable and “has a chance to win South Carolina.”

However, “she will be seriously debilitated by the fact independents who can vote in the New Hampshire primary are not afforded the same rights in South Carolina,” Cohen-Sanchez told The Center Square via email.

“It definitely hurts her that South Carolina Senator Tim Scott endorsed Trump as did other prominent lawmakers,” Cohen-Sanchez said. “Her campaign funds are adequate, and if she can pull off the upset, she will be able to raise significant money from all the Never Trump Republicans.

“Still, it’s almost impossible for her to find a path to victory unless Trump has major health issues or decides to pull out, which is highly unlikely but statistically possible.”