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Trump on course to win in SC, but Nikki Haley likely to continue push

Crystal Graham
nikki haley
(© Aaron of L.A. Photography – Shutterstock)

The South Carolina Republican primary on Saturday will likely see former president Donald Trump victorious over former S.C. governor Nikki Haley.

Despite polls showing Haley will lose her home state, she has so far refused to give up her bid for the nation’s top post.

“Given recent polling numbers, it looks unlikely that Haley will pull off a win in her home state of South Carolina, where she was twice elected governor,” said Virginia Tech political expert Caitlin Jewitt. “It will be important for her to do better than expected, as she did in New Hampshire, in order to give her some momentum headed into Super Tuesday.”

South Carolina has an open primary which means any registered voter may choose to participate.

“This should be helpful to Haley who tends to do better with independents,” said Jewitt.

More than one-third of all Republican delegates are at stake in the next round of primaries on Super Tuesday.

“Many of these states will use proportional representation with a trigger to allocate delegates. This means that if a candidate surpasses a certain threshold — usually 50 percent — he or she is awarded all the delegates for the state,” said Jewitt. “In what is effectively a two-person race, that is very likely to occur, meaning the candidate that wins states will amass a large delegate lead.”

Even if Haley agrees with most pundits that she is unlikely to win the nomination, there are some reasons she may choose to continue her push for president.

“There are many reasons a candidate stays in the race, beyond trying to actually win the nomination,” said Jewitt. “A presidential candidacy increases name recognition, promotes one’s brand, lays the groundwork for a future run and is a try-out of sorts for other offices — for example, Cabinet positions, or the vice-presidency.

“In Haley’s case, she is well-funded by influential elites, allowing her to hang on and voice a distinct viewpoint. By staying in the race, she is positioning herself as the alternative to Trump, which may provide useful, depending on what happens in Trump’s legal battles.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.