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And then there were two: Nikki Haley does far better against Trump in New Hampshire than expected – now what?

Nikki will probably lose South Carolina, but here’s why she may stay in the race anyway

Donald Trump and Nikki Haley (Photo: Reuters)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – And then there were two.

After a year on the campaign trail, every other GOP presidential candidate has suspended his campaign except two very interested, very successful, and yet uniquely flawed contenders.

Last night, former President Donald J. Trump notched his second victory in these early days of the 2024 campaign.

After winning the Iowa Caucuses last week by more than 30 points, Trump won the New Hampshire primary with 54.6% of the vote.

But Nikki Haley – the former governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is now Trump’s only GOP challenger – did far better than expected.

Having started the race at less than 2% in the polls, she drew 43.2% of the vote in the Granite State, after surging over the past month.

True, Trump can claim a double-digit victory, beating Haley by 11 points.

But Trump only walked away with 12 delegates.

Haley actually walked away with nine.

True, Trump is leading in South Carolina by 30 points, based on the Real Clear Politics average.

But no credible poll has been taken there in several weeks.

And the dynamics of the race have completely changed.

Nikki Haley is from South Carolina.

She did better than expected in Iowa.

She did far better than expected in New Hampshire.

Her numbers have been growing steadily.

And there is no one – besides Trump – in her way now.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is out, and has endorsed Trump.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is out, and has endorsed Trump.

Entrepreneur CEO Vivek Ramaswamy is out, and has endorsed Trump.

Yet even though MAGA fans say it’s over, Trump does have some serious liabilities.

He’s been indicted on 91 federal felony counts.

He’s innocent, of course, until proven guilty.

But what if a court finds him guilty on one, or two, or more of these charges?

Most Republicans will stick with Trump, to be sure.

But that’s not the question.

The question is whether some Evangelicals will say, “I love the pro-life, pro-family, pro-growth, pro-Israel policies Mr. Trump got done in office. But I can't vote for a convicted felon. I can’t abide by how he handled himself on January 6th. I’m not comfortable with a court fining him $5 million for sexual assault. I’ll never vote for Joe Biden because he’s a disaster. But I just can’t in good conscience vote for Mr. Trump this time.”

What if 5% of Evangelicals say this?

What if 10% or more do?

What if they are in critical swing states?

If the 2020 election was “this close,” Trump cannot afford to lose any Evangelicals.

And what about Independents and suburban women?

Right now, they are turning against Biden because of his disastrous handling of the economy, foreign policy, and the invasion of seven million illegal aliens over the Mexican border.

But what if they sour on Trump again, as many did in 2020?

Let’s be clear on three points.

First, it’s very likely that he will win the Republican nomination for president, based on everything we’ve seen so far.

Second, both Donald Trump and Nikki Haley will be super pro-Israel and very strong against the Iranian terrorist regime.

But third, let’s be honest – the polls currently show that Haley is far more electable as a general election candidate than Trump.

I’m not saying Trump can’t win in the fall.

I’m saying the GOP has never nominated someone as old as Trump, or someone with 91 federal felony indictments pending.

Republicans are, therefore, heading into uncharted waters.

Also, I need to say that I have some real disagreements with Haley on a number of issues.

She has her own set of weaknesses.

I don’t think she’ll win in South Carolina because Trump has been far more popular than her.

And generally when you lose your home state, you’re toast.

But even if Haley loses in her home state – and perhaps even if she loses badly – I think she may very well stay in the race.

And compete in states where she can rack up delegates.

And present herself, essentially, as “fire insurance,” in case Trump stumbles.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS is a non-profit and thus a non-partisan news and analysis site.

We don’t endorse candidates.

We do provide analysis, especially since the next President of the United States is going to have a huge impact on the future of U.S.-Israel relations and the future of U.S.-Iran policy.

So, we’ll keep tracking this race and keep you posted every step of the way.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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