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In the ongoing race to select the Republican Party nominee, Nikki Haley has lost every primary and caucus but one. That was the District of Columbia Republican primary, which she won with 62% of the vote. However, the District of Columbia primary has historically been an outlier due to the low number of Republican voters in the district. In any case, her chances of securing the nomination are slim to none.

So what did she hope to gain by staying in the contest for so long? Normal answers would be "a place as vice president on the ticket" or "greater exposure in preparation for a future presidential run," but neither seems convincing here. The first because the longer she stays in the contest, the more she irritates Trump, and the second because, given the Republican Party's attachment to Trump, she is not exactly endearing herself to them.

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The reason can be summed up simply: to accumulate political capital.

Although we may not know it, there are many presidential candidates. They have never had a splashy exploit and have not been exposed by mainstream media, which is why they cannot compete. Nikki Haley calls herself anti-Trump and threatens to fight Trump to the bitter end, which is a pretty good stunt. Although Nikki Haley has failed miserably in almost every encounter with Trump, there is no doubt that she has been known across the country and even the world. In the 2028 presidential election, Nikki Haley's reappearance will undoubtedly benefit from the grand campaign in 2024. A candidate who appears in front of the mainstream media is much better in a formal competition than one who is unknown.

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    Not to say this is necessarily wrong and it certainly speaks to the, quite popular, cynicism about all politicians. However, it also conveniently ignores the fact that - in the US, with its renewal-via-primaries churn - ex-POTUS candidates often slip out of sight entirely or get identified with their failure - Dukakis' tank/ Dean's scream - making them into rather deflated political figures very quickly. If Trump doesn't implode his base somehow, all the more true of someone who dared defy the God Emperor Mar 6 at 15:38
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She's said she's catering to Americans in general, since polls repeatedly show that most Americans are dismayed at the prospect of another Biden vs. Trump matchup.

Nikki Haley has suggested a “majority of Americans” do not want Donald Trump or Joe Biden as president.

Speaking to NewsNation on Tuesday 20 February, the Republican hopeful said her campaign is giving voters “a choice”.

“This is about the fact that the majority of Americans dislike both candidates, 70 per cent of Americans say they don’t want a Trump v Biden rematch,” Ms Haley said.

“We are giving them a choice.”

Source

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I would think she was clinging on in the hopes that Mr Trump would somehow be unable to participate in the election, due to the many judiciary proceedings against him.

And if Mr Trump were somehow disqualified, barred, or unable to participate, then the RNC would need an alternative candidate, and depending on when exactly that happens, they may have to fall back on the next primary candidate with the most votes / still in the running.

It was a pretty long shot, and, of course, yesterday's US Supreme Court decision reduced strongly the chances of this happening, but there are quite a few other lawsuits in progress which could still be a problem.

Edit

She has now dropped out of the race.

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Donald Trump is 77. There is a ~5% probability he will die before the election. She might as well be there.

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    That's not how statistics work.
    – gerrit
    Mar 6 at 11:47
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    @gerrit can you elaborate? the table in question cites a 5% chance of death within a year for a 77 year old. seems to match this well enough. Mar 6 at 15:34
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_fallacy Rich people tend to live longer, for starters, etc. Remember Trump's mega-special treatment for Covid etc.? time.com/5896274/trump-covid-19-treatments Mar 7 at 3:31
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    @Dolphin613Motorboat that's really, really, unspecific as to why a table entry giving a 5% chance of dying within a year for a 77 year old is somehow missing the point here. Are you saying a 77 year old doesn't carry about that level of risk in 1 year, on average? because, well that sounds not that far off. That article is chock full of warnings and its relationship to a carefully calculated actuarial table is unclear. As you get older, the wealth boost gets less - you won't live to 100 just because you are a billionaire. Mar 7 at 3:39
  • Economist covered that 2-3 months back : Today his [Mr Biden’s] chances of surviving through a second term in office are close to 75% (about 10% better survival than for an average man his age). Similar, although slightly less favourable survival prospects are present for Trump.” And, as they also put it, though Biden looked feeble for falling off his bike, he looked quite fit for being on it in the first place. Mar 7 at 3:40
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To give voters a choice

An “election” with only one candidate isn't very fun. Someone had to be the penultimate candidate standing, and with Asa Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis dropping out of the race early in the primary season, Nikki Haley kind of became the last non-Trump candidate by default. Haley herself called this a “duty”.

I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run for president. I’m a woman of my word...In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak. They 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.

There is a segment of Republican voters who are not fully aligned with Trump or his leadership style, and Haley provided an alternative for them to vote for. Unfortunately for Haley, this segment turned out not to be as large as she had previously thought.

To maintain visibility

By choosing to stay in the race, Haley continued to garner attention from the media and from the Republican party leadership. She may have been using her presidential campaign as an opportunity to expand her network of supporters or to gain experience for some future political endeavor.

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