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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Could Nikki Haley still win the Republican nomination?

Jack Spiegel
Former President Donald Trump leads the race for Republican presidential nominee with 110 delegates, and Haley follows with 20 delegates, according to The Associated Press.

Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley lost the South Carolina Primary on Feb. 24 to former President Donald Trump. It was a devastating political defeat. Haley was the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, so a “home-field advantage” should’ve helped her. Instead, she might as well have been a stranger that voters in the state had never heard of.

Haley lost to Trump by more than 150,000 votes, sparking the need for a dissection on the defeat and what the future of her campaign will look like.

The obvious target audience in a Republican primary would be Republicans. If Haley wanted to win South Carolina, she needed to appeal to Republican voters. Not only with issues and topics, but also with her approaches to them.

Trump has a strong hold on a larger number of demographics than Haley. Haley attracts more left-leaning independents, moderate Republicans and Democrats who didn’t vote in the Democratic primary. Trump has the votes of traditional Republicans, such as veterans and evangelicals, according to NBC News.

Just the fact that Haley is attracting leftists is deterring Republicans.

Of course, campaigns are led by the candidate’s policies. Foreign policy plays a role in voters’ decisions, with 37% of voters saying foreign policy is their top issue, according to a South Carolina exit poll.

Trump’s isolationist approaches have been confused for nationalism. Secluding us from foreign nations is not the answer. His voters don’t see that. To them, this is just an “America-first” approach, and they don’t understand the severity of that tactic and the repercussions it can actually have.

Haley’s experiences as a U.N. ambassador have given her a seemingly unnoticed leg-up on this key issue. She is a nationalist, yet appreciates the importance of foreign relationships.

If this was a pre-2016 election, she may have gotten by with her policies alone. But, her defeat is simply because of Trump’s following and South Carolina being a state where the conservative population has more extreme views.

Trump’s supporters see him as hard-hitting and are underwhelmed by Haley’s approaches after years of listening to his speeches and observing his aggressive behavior.

She lost because the South Carolina voters have a misconception of both her and Trump. She isn’t perceived as strong because they perceive Trump’s aggression and the lack of thought in his words as strength. It’s a disappointing reality.

Haley’s reputation as governor should’ve been a stepping stone, but was overshadowed by Trump’s as a loose cannon. In times like these, we need to put entertainment aside to prioritize the country’s best interest.

Yes, Trump has presidential experience. But Haley’s foreign policy experience would prove much more useful with an abundance of issues that the world is experiencing. Trump is funny sometimes. But we shouldn’t be looking for humor when people are dying overseas and our national security is threatened.

Ever since the New Hampshire primary, Haley is persevering through her series of losses. In her concession speech after the South Carolina primary was called, she showed no signs of dropping out.

It’s likely she’ll wait until Super Tuesday to end her campaign, when the more moderate states will hold their primary elections. She may gain more delegates, but catching up to Trump with the deficit she has right now will be difficult.

Haley believes she can still convince voters. In her speech she said, “America will come apart if we make the wrong choices.”

We’re going to see changes in her arguments in an effort to be more convincing. I went to a few of her events in New Hampshire, she gave the same rehearsed speech at each one. It was the same speech she gave on TV.

At first I thought “Wow, she’s really articulate and convincing.” After attending the last event, her speech wasn’t convincing and left me wondering what she truly cares about and if her candidacy is just an act.

At this point in the race, voters have seen her speak on the same issues a lot. Whether it be in interviews or at rallies, voters hear the same lines. She needs to create a new script.

What’s appealing to Trump voters is the spontaneity. You never know what he’s going to say, or when. It makes him seem more genuine.

A rehearsed monologue isn’t going to push Haley to the election in November, but instead keep her at the same place she is now.

Many voters are convinced that Trump is the overall winner due to the outcomes of primaries in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina, and come Super Tuesday, we’ll truly know if Haley is a potential nominee.

If Haley can convince more voters like she intends, she may be able to take hold of Trump’s votes. It’s going to take a lot of work to make up the losses Haley has already incurred. She needs to change her wording every now and then so that her campaign doesn’t grow stale, and show voters that she’s authentic and actually has their best interests in mind.

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Lillian Curtin
Lillian Curtin, Opinion Editor

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