Trump’s underperformance in South Carolina is an anti-MAGA triumph

Trump’s underperformance in South Carolina is an anti-MAGA triumph

When Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley won 43% of the vote in New Hampshire’s GOP primary last month, it seemed like a probable blip in a nominating process that was destined to be dominated by front-runner Donald Trump. The Granite State’s highly educated electorate, with its healthy libertarian streak, was custom built to give Haley a hopeful but short-lived boost—a spirited protest vote—before Trump continued his glide path to the Republican nomination.

But Haley’s surprise 40% showing in deeply conservative South Carolina was something altogether different, signifying a substantial strain of resistance to Trump and a rejection of MAGA politics. Sure, Haley is the former governor of South Carolina, but pre-election polls had predicted a bloodbath, with Trump trouncing her by some 30 percentage points.   

During her buoyant election-night speech on Saturday, Haley told a room full of jubilant supporters that while they didn’t win the Palmetto State, her share of the electorate also was not “some tiny group.”

“Today, in South Carolina, we’re getting around 40% of the vote,” Haley said, adding, “I’m an accountant. I know 40% is not 50%. But I also know 40% is not some tiny group. There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primaries who are saying they want an alternative.”

In other words, her anti-Trump 40% isn’t a blip. It’s a trend.

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