US election 2024 Nikki Haley wins primary against Donald Trump for the first time

For weeks, Nikki Haley has been in a race with Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination without much of a chance. For the first time she has achieved success – but only a small one.

In the US Republican presidential primaries, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley achieved her first victory in a duel against former President Donald Trump. Haley won the internal party vote in the Washington Capital District, as the Republican Party announced after the vote.

The result does not change Trump’s clear dominance in the race, but it breaks his previous winning streak and gives Haley at least a symbolic success – even if only a small one. Trump had previously easily won all of the party’s internal primaries and is also the clear favorite in the remaining votes.

The background to Nikki Haley’s victory

The US capital is extremely democratic, urban, and highly educated. Washington is considered a stronghold of the anti-Trump camp, supporters of the ex-president are significantly underrepresented here – hence Haley’s success, which is more of a symbolic nature.

Around 700,000 people live in the US capital on the east coast of the country. In the Washington metropolitan area, including the surrounding metropolitan area, there are several million. According to the Republican Party, only a good 2,000 votes were cast in the internal vote in Washington and there was only one polling station. The result therefore has limited significance. In most primaries in the USA, only those who have registered in advance for the respective party can take part. Voter turnout is therefore often comparatively low. According to the party, Haley got around 63 percent of the vote in the US capital, Trump around 33 percent.

The mathematics of primaries

Anyone who wants to become a presidential candidate in the USA must first prevail in internal party primaries. The primary election voting process is complex and varies from state to state. The two major parties vote on the delegates who will then choose their candidate for the White House at the nomination party conventions in the summer. The Republican nomination convention will take place in mid-July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 2,429 delegates meet there. To win, a candidate must gather at least 1,215 delegates behind them.

Trump had already won 244 delegates in the primaries in recent weeks and days, while Haley only won 24. The votes are sometimes awarded proportionally to the voting results, so Haley has already been able to collect some votes without winning a single primary. In the capital district of Washington there were only 19 delegate votes up for grabs – Haley now has 43. The balance of power in the duel does not change significantly as a result of the victory.

The struggle for the sovereignty of interpretation

For Trump, however, it is at least a nuisance that he is no longer undefeated in the primary series. He reacted accordingly to Haley’s victory. On the platform he co-founded, Truth Social, the ex-president wrote that he “deliberately stayed away from the election in Washington because it is the ‘swamp’, with very few delegates and no advantages.” Haley, whom he insulted as a “brainhead,” on the other hand, spent all her time, money and efforts on the vote there.

Instead, he himself had won several other primaries over the weekend, Trump wrote, speaking of a “complete destruction of a very weak opponent.” Trump’s campaign team dismissed Haley’s success as a sign that she could only score points with the establishment in the capital, but not with ordinary citizens.

Haley’s team, on the other hand, spoke of a historic result: never before had a woman won a presidential primary among the US Republicans. It’s also “not surprising that the Republicans closest to the dysfunction in Washington reject Donald Trump and all his chaos.”

A question of time

Despite various scandals, escapades and a chaotic term as president, the 77-year-old has great support among the party base. Even major legal problems in the election year – four indictments in criminal cases and significant damages in two civil cases – have so far not harmed Trump politically.

It is unclear how long Haley will remain in the race, as she is effectively no longer given a chance to beat Trump. Even in her home state of South Carolina, where Haley was once governor, Trump won by a wide margin at the end of February.

Supporters of the ex-president have been calling on the 52-year-old for weeks to give up and end her election campaign. However, Haley has so far emphasized that she will stick with it at least until “Super Tuesday”: This is the next big milestone in the election year this Tuesday, when voting will take place in parallel in more than a dozen states.

In one fell swoop, more than a third of all delegate votes for the Republican nomination convention will be awarded. Polls predict one victory after another for Trump in the Super Tuesday states. It could very well be that Haley throws it afterwards.

The actual presidential election is finally taking place on November 5th. The incumbent Joe Biden would like to run for another term for the Democrats. He has no serious competition in his party’s internal race. At the moment everything indicates that Biden and Trump will ultimately compete against each other again.