Nikki Haley will not be the Republican candidate for President. That is unless Trump is somehow taken out of the race, which is improbable. But the best thing that can happen is that she stays in and forces Republican primary voters in multiple states to consider the two. Especially if Trump stays true to form and goes on the attack.
New Hampshire was more of a win for sanity than most of the headlines would make people believe. What it showed was that almost half of the primary voters out there would prefer someone who doesn’t have 91 indictments and tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Sure most of those will go for Trump once it’s between him and Biden. But maybe some will just decide to sit it out. At this point that’s mostly what we need. To cut into the enthusiasm that surrounds the Trump candidacy.
Nikki Haley is not in this race just to take Trump out. She’ll probably endorse him when she finally quits. So don’t be under any illusion that she’s going to stay in to save American Democracy, or that her major donors will encourage her for that reason. She’s young enough to not want to spoil any future chances she’ll have to run. If she can’t win this time, she’ll have two options. Beat whoever runs next after a Biden second term or jockey for a position in the Republican authoritarian regime that comes with the next Trump Presidency. Unlike Turkey and Russia, I don’t think it’ll take a decade to dismantle free and fair elections here in the United States.
I’d like to think that her ambition is to steer the Republican party back to something that believes in Democracy again. I really would. But I doubt it, she hasn’t attacked that aspect of Trump, and she’s already indicated that she’d endorse him because as she says Biden is worse. And to her, the scariest possibility is a Kamala Harris presidency. That said, if Biden can beat Trump, and I’m putting that possibility at about a 10 – 15% chance as of January 2024, then maybe the 2026 and 2028 elections might find someone, possibly Haley, who wants to attempt to restore the Republican party to an institution that is willing to stay within the confines of Democracy. But I also doubt that. The party is dead, even Heather Cox Richardson is saying so. How that plays out will be the next battle, but first, the Democrats have to take the Presidency, the House, and pick up a seat or two in the Senate. And that is a herculean task. Everyone is going to need their hair on fire to achieve that and right now people are too concerned about being disappointed in Biden and not enough concerned about the alternative being a thousand times worse.
Trump will likely capture daily headlines for the rest of the election year. Between the court cases and the press’s inability to stop staring into the spectacle, it’s pretty much guaranteed. Having to beat Nikki Haley in the next few primaries will help remind people what a drag it is to have Trump in your face 24/7. Instead of playing the victim, he’ll be out there being the chauvinist bigoted pig that he is. The more he attacks Nikki Haley, the more the country will be reminded of that. If her speech in New Hampshire is any indication she is ready to goad him into being his worst self. Which if you haven’t noticed is pretty bad. It’d be great if it dragged into Summer, but it probably won’t. Most likely sometime before mid-March Haley will endorse Trump and start lining up her options in the coming power struggle.
Here’s the rub. Biden won the popular vote by 7.5 million votes in 2020. Hillary won almost 3 million more votes than Trump and still lost the electoral college. So Trump could easily lose by 5 million votes and comfortably win the electoral college. That’s our problem. We still haven’t fixed that, remember? The Republicans will never win the popular vote again, that’s why they have to make elections meaningless. Not want, they have to in order to survive. So many Democrats are turned off by Biden that he’s most likely not going to get the turnout he had last time. You have to remind everyone of that. You really, really, do. Trump on the other hand has 60% of the Republican voters enthusiastically ready to follow him anywhere. Most of the other 40% is going to fall in line in the general election. But some won’t. That’s where Nikki Haley staying in the primary as long as possible can be helpful.
It’s going to come down to a few hundred thousand votes in 5 or 6 states. Biden won’t have the numbers he had last time. We need the same to be said of Trump.