Super Tuesday: Nikki Haley’s last chance or a continuation of Donald Trump’s dominance

American presidential elections are unique in many ways – the Head of State, who is also the Head of Government, is elected indirectly through the Electoral College, voting is held every four years since 1792, the election campaign lasts almost two years, and every step of the election process inthe most powerful country in the world is followed with great attention across the planet. All these are the reasons many call the US presidential election the biggest political show in the world ― and every play has a first act. In the battle for the White House, the final of that first act, the introduction to the main characters (i.e. candidates) is the so-called Super Tuesday.

The US presidential election will be held on November 5, 2024, and the candidates will be formally announced at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee (July 15 – 18) and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (August 19 – 22).  However, following the Super Tuesday — the pivotal moment when internal party elections take place across the most states — it will become evident whether the anticipated rematch between former US President Donald Trump and his successor, Joe Biden, will materialize in nine months, or if there might be room for an unexpected outcome.

Both Democrats and Republicans are voting in 14 states today, March 5 – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia, while Democrats will have caucuses in Iowa and American Samoa, and Republicans in Alaska.

Bearing in mind that the primaries are also indirect voting, candidates in these states can win almost a third of the total number of delegates – 865 in the Republican Party and at least 1,420 in the Democratic Party. If you add to that the fact that 1,215 delegates are needed to win the Republican nomination, and 1,968 to win the Democratic nomination, it is clear how important Super Tuesday is.

When it comes to the Democratic Party, the situation is quite simple. The current President of the White House has almost no opposition in the party. Joe Biden has so far won 206 delegates, while the other two candidates – Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson – failed to win even a single one.

The situation is slightly more complicated In the Republican Party. Six people were initially nominated against Donald Trump – Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson. However, after the former president’s convincing victories, everyone except Haley dropped out. The former US Ambassador to the United Nations and Governor of South Carolina continued the election race even after being embarrassed by defeats in Nevada, where she did not even have an opponent, and in her native South Carolina, where 20 percent more Republicans voted for Trump.

,,I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I will continue to run for office. I am a woman of my word. Voters have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate. And I have a duty to give them that choice“ – she said a week ago.

This attitude brought Haley her first victory in the internal party elections two days before the Super Tuesday – she won 19 delegates in the American capital, Washington. That’s not a big surprise if you know that there are only 23,000 registered Republicans in the District of Columbia. But it is not insignificant either – with this victory, Nikki Haley became the first woman to win the intra-party election for the presidential nomination in the Republican Party. That may be enough to bring her back before Super Tuesday, but the chances of her reversing the scoreboard, where Trump dominates with 244 delegates to her 19, remain minimal. 

Polls and analyzes announce that the 45th President of the USA can already prepare the champagne for the celebration, especially after the Supreme Court unanimously made a historic decision on Monday – neither Colorado nor any American federal state has the right to remove Donald Trump from the ballot.

However, we should not lose sight of the fact that in the last two election cycles it was Super Tuesday that brought a turning point – Trump was voted on March 1 and 15, 2016 (that year there were two Super Tuesdays) from an outsider who his rivals did not even consider him a politician, he became the main candidate in the Republican Party, and on March 3, 2020, Biden turned from an unconvincing candidate into a leader who could not be defeated.

Nikki Haley has almost no chance of pulling off such a turnaround. However, her defiance, as well as her refusal to admit defeat, show how polarized not only American society is, but also the Republican Party itself. The situation is such that while she insists at rallies that her campaign is not “anti-Trump”, her constituents, the Republicans, insist that they would rather vote for a Democrat than for Trump. Because of that current in the party, which believes that Trump has no chance to do this November what he failed to do four years ago – defeat Biden, and it is not surprising that her statement that she no longer has an obligation to support Trump in case of defeat.

„The Republican Party is no longer the same Republican Party. I’ll make the decision I want, but it’s not something I’m thinking about yet“ – she said in a guest appearance on NBC.

What that means, we may find out as soon as the results of Super Tuesday are known, at the end of the first act of the biggest political show in the world.

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