And Then There Were Two: Trump vs. Haley

Trump sits by Haley

Image Courtesy of Le Monde

By John Maggio

With Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropping out of the race just days before the New Hampshire primary, the race for the Republican nomination is now down to two. The two candidates show extreme ends of the GOP, former President Donald Trump, looking to get the nomination for the third straight time, and former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has shown herself to be the leader of the anti-Trump portion of the Republican Party.

Trump has won the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, both with a commanding lead. In the Hawkeye State last week, Trump won 51% of the votes, gaining 20 of Iowa’s 40 delegates. Haley came in third behind DeSantis, winning 19% of the votes in the caucus, winning eight delegates. 

Trump was by far the clear winner Tuesday, in the Granite State with over 50% of the votes, awarding him 12 delegates, while Haley won with about 44% of the votes and the remaining nine delegates.

With DeSantis out of the race, a recent poll showed that most of his supporters would choose Trump as an alternative candidate. It is no surprise that his supporters are mostly going to vote for Trump instead, given he ran a “Diet Trump” campaign – similar to Trump in policy and views, just without the baggage or controversies of the former president, such as his divisive rhetoric (relatively compared to Trump) and legal issues. This similarity to the GOP frontrunner in terms of views can be seen in DeSantis’ concession video released on Sunday.

“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance. They watched his presidency get stymied by relentless resistance and they see Democrats using lawfare to this day to attack him. While I’ve had disagreements with Donald Trump, such as on the Coronavirus pandemic and his elevation of Anthony Fauci, Trump is superior to the current incumbent Joe Biden. That is clear.”

DeSantis unsurprisingly threw his support behind Trump. Haley is looking to become the first woman nominee for the Republican Party and only the second nominee of the two major parties, with Hilary Clinton leading the Democratic ticket in 2016. Trump is trying to be the first Republican to get the nomination three times in a row and the first candidate since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to get three or more consecutive nominations. 

This coming month will be an important stretch for the rest of the campaign. Some of the important primaries in February include Nevada on February 8 and Michigan on February 27. These both are important battleground states for the general election, so each of the two remaining Republican candidates is looking to get big wins in these states. President Joe Biden, who won both states in 2020, is behind both Trump and Haley in Nevada and Michigan.

The South Carolina Primary on February 24, where Haley was the former governor, will also hold their primary . Trump is the front-runner in the Palmetto State, beating Haley in her home state by as much as 40% in some polls.

The February primaries are important for the candidates to pick up momentum heading into March. March 5 is Super Tuesday. Often the day is a make-or-break moment in campaigns that could decide each party’s nomination, as this is when most of the states hold their primaries/caucuses. Eleven states hold their votes on the fifth including California, Texas, Virginia, Maine, and North Carolina.
President Biden is by far the leader in the race for the Democratic ticket. The only other candidates of note in the race are author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson and Minnesota congressman Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN 3). Both are polling in single digits though. On Tuesday, Biden won the New Hampshire primary as a write-in candidate with a majority of the vote. The Democrats’ first primary will be on February 3 in South Carolina, a state that gave life to the Biden campaign in the 2020 primary.

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