Nikki Haley's Strong Showing in Pennsylvania Primary Signals Trouble for Trump

Nikki Haley's surprise 17% vote in PA's GOP primary despite dropping out suggests Trump faces resistance, with implications for the general election.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Nikki Haley's Strong Showing in Pennsylvania Primary Signals Trouble for Trump

Nikki Haley's Strong Showing in Pennsylvania Primary Signals Trouble for Trump

In a surprising turn of events, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley received over 150,000 votes in Pennsylvania's 2024 Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, despite having dropped out of the race weeks ago. While former President Donald Trump easily won the primary with 83% of the vote, Haley's significant vote total of nearly 17% indicates continued support for her in the state.

Haley's supporters continued to vote for her even after she suspended her campaign in early March. Her strong performance, especially in urban and suburban areas where Trump suffered massive losses in his previous campaigns, could prove damaging to Trump's prospects for victory in Pennsylvania and potentially his reelection. Haley's vote total was about twice the margin by which President Joe Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania in 2020, suggesting that her supporters may refuse to back Trump in the general election.

Why this matters: Pennsylvania is a key battleground state with 19 electoral votes up for grabs in the presidential election. The results of the primaries could have significant implications for the general election, as Haley's base largely came from areas vital for winning the state.

On the Democratic side, President Biden faced some opposition in the primary, with U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota winning 7% of the vote and over 50,000 write-in "uncommitted" votes cast. Muslim and Arab-American voters also mounted an "Abandon Biden" campaign. While Biden still won the Democratic primary, turnout was lower in Philadelphia compared to 2020.

The primary saw high overall turnout, with around 1 million ballots counted for each party out of 3.5 million registered Republican voters and 3.9 million registered Democratic voters in Pennsylvania. Independent and third-party candidates have until August 1 to file their nominating papers, which could provide voters with additional choices in what is expected to be a close race in November, with a margin of victory of 1% or less.

Republican analysts hope that the increase in write-in votes and some unhappiness with Biden among Democrats might help Trump win Pennsylvania. However, Haley's strong showing, particularly in the Philadelphia suburbs, suggests that a considerable slice of the Republican electorate is voicing a protest vote against Trump as the GOP nominee. The Biden campaign has made attempts to appeal to Haley voters, including a digital ad highlighting Trump's past criticism of her.

Key Takeaways

  • Nikki Haley received 17% of the vote in PA's 2024 GOP primary despite dropping out.
  • Haley's strong performance could hurt Trump's chances in PA, a key battleground state.
  • Biden faced some opposition in the Democratic primary, with lower turnout in Philadelphia.
  • High overall turnout, with independent/third-party candidates still able to file by Aug 1.
  • Haley's support suggests a protest vote against Trump as the GOP nominee.