As the Supreme Court gets set to deliberate on the high-profile case challenging Donald Trump’s eligibility to be on the ballot, many are wondering what happens if he loses?
The legal team contesting the eligibility of former President Donald Trump to be listed on the ballot has expressed strong confidence, stating they will “run the table” as the Supreme Court convenes for historic oral arguments in the case today. “Our team has been prepared for this for a long time,” Mario Nicolais, co-counsel for the team representing six Republican and independent voters who sued Trump. “We think we win so many of these arguments on multiple different levels, and that’s why we feel very strongly that we will win this case.”
If Trump is ruled inelegible for the ballot, the question then becomes, could Haley beat Biden?
Poll Data Analysis: Wisconsin’s Insight
A Marquette Law School poll conducted from January 24-31, 2024, with a sample of 848 likely voters in Wisconsin, has provided a significant boost to Haley’s argument for electability. The poll shows Haley leading Biden by a substantial margin of 15 percentage points (57% to 42%). In contrast, Trump is neck-and-neck with Biden, with a 50% to 49% split, a result within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Despite Trump’s commanding lead in the GOP primary, including a 64% to 22% lead over Haley in Wisconsin, the poll data suggests Haley could be a stronger candidate in the general election. This is reinforced by a December Wall Street Journal poll that placed Haley 17 points ahead of Biden, further strengthening her electability argument.
Electability and Voter Perception
Haley has emphasized her electability, often citing polling showing her with larger leads than Trump over Biden. However, convincing enough Republican voters to shift their support from Trump remains a challenge. The Wisconsin poll results were quickly highlighted by Haley’s campaign, with spokesperson AnnMarie Graham-Barnes stating, “Democrats couldn’t dream up a weaker general election candidate than Donald Trump if they tried.”
Nevada Primary Gives Haley Sobering News
In the Nevada Republican primary, Nikki Haley faced a significant setback, losing decisively to the “none of these candidates” option. This result is a stark indicator of the challenges her campaign faces as she seeks to gain momentum against her main rival, Donald Trump. Despite being the only major candidate running, Haley’s performance was overshadowed by a preference for none of the listed options, signaling a troubling sign for her campaign’s appeal among GOP voters.
With the majority of votes counted, “none of these candidates” nearly doubled Haley’s tally, a clear reflection of her struggle to resonate with the electorate in Nevada. This outcome was particularly disappointing given the primary’s potential to serve as a messaging boost for Haley, especially since she was ineligible to win any delegates due to a state party rule disqualifying primary participants in favor of caucus-goers.
The Nevada Republican Party’s commitment to its caucus system, alongside Haley’s minimal campaign efforts in the state, contributed to her poor showing. Her decision to engage in the state-run primary, which was met with opposition from the state GOP, was seen by many as a disregard for the importance of Nevada’s delegates. This sentiment was echoed by state party officials and voters alike, who had anticipated such a result based on Haley’s limited engagement and the prevailing mood among Republicans in Nevada.
Trump’s reaction to Haley’s loss, mocking her expected rationalization of the defeat, underscores the competitive tension within the GOP. The “none of these candidates” option, a unique feature of Nevada elections since 1975, served as a vehicle for voters to express their dissatisfaction or indifference towards the available choices, including Haley.
This primary result not only dampens Haley’s prospects in Nevada but also raises questions about her campaign’s strategy and her ability to connect with Republican voters on a broader scale. As the GOP primary season progresses, Haley’s campaign will need to reassess its approach and find new ways to engage and motivate the party’s base if she hopes to contend seriously for the nomination.
The Path Forward for Haley
For Nikki Haley to capitalize on her perceived electability, she must navigate the complex dynamics of GOP primary politics. Convincing the Republican base, which remains largely loyal to Trump, requires not only highlighting her strengths in a general election but also addressing key policy areas and concerns that resonate with primary voters.
The Wisconsin poll data presents a compelling case for Nikki Haley’s potential to outperform Donald Trump in a general election matchup against Joe Biden. However, the challenge lies in shifting the Republican electorate’s support from Trump to Haley. As the primary season progresses, Haley’s campaign will likely intensify efforts to showcase her as the more electable candidate, capable of uniting the party and appealing to a broader electorate in the face of a competitive general election.