Former SC Gov. Nikki Haley remains confident, despite caucus results

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The results are in from the Iowa caucuses in the race to the White House. To no one’s surprise, former President Donald Trump dominated the competition, winning more than 50% of the vote. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis beat out former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for second place.

Now, the next focus is on New Hampshire’s primary.

Haley’s loss wasn’t a surprise to some in South Carolina. Even though she has massive support in the Palmetto State, some say she could struggle to pull out a win in South Carolina’s primary next month.

The latest polling from Winthrop University in Rock Hill showed Trump remains the top choice of South Carolina Republican registered voters.

Iowa caucus 2024: Trump handily wins majority of caucus votes

Numbers from the fall show Trump with the majority of support from South Carolina Republican registered voters at 52%. Haley had the support of about 17% of those same voters.

Despite the results in Iowa, Haley remains confident. On Monday night, she said her third place finish shows she’s gaining momentum.

“I can safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race,” she said.

Moving forward

Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon said Trump’s success reveals a lot about the race ahead for Haley and DeSantis.

“The problem for both is they needed to show Trump had at least a hair of vulnerability, which means he needed to not win by a majority,” Huffmon said.

While Haley has a rich political history in South Carolina and lots of support there, Huffmon said she’ll have to beat DeSantis in South Carolina and close the margin between herself and Trump in order to have a strong shot at the Republican nomination.

“Nikki Haley is very favorably seen,” Huffmon said. “She’s very popular in South Carolina, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t Trump country. Trump still holds the majority of the Republican party.”

ALSO READ: President Joe Biden heads to North Carolina this week

He said that’s why DeSantis was stumping in South Carolina Tuesday, hitting both Greenville and Columbia. It’s something Huffmon expects more of, especially after New Hampshire’s primary next week.

“Between New Hampshire on Jan. 23 and Feb. 24, we are going to see the top three candidates just blanketing South Carolina,” he said.

“We are going to become the epicenter of the political universe,” Huffmon added.

Primaries in the Carolinas

So when are the primaries in the Carolinas?

South Carolina is first up. The Democratic primary is Feb. 3 and the GOP primary is Feb. 24.

North Carolina votes on Super Tuesday -- March 5.

Every Sunday at 11:30 a.m., you can count on the Political Beat to prepare you for this election year. Channel 9’s Joe Bruno is taking you inside each race that you need to know about.

This week, he’s sitting down with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein.

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