With Nikki Haley expected to officially launch the start of her campaign for the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary, Donald Trump knows that each additional candidate after Haley will help his odds at a third nomination from the Republican Party.
In 2016, Trump thrived from a base of supporters that were an unprecedentedly loyal core. Those staunch supporters freely admitted and continue to boast that they’ve never seriously entertained the though of voting for any other candidate. While the true size of that base has been debated by analysts, there’s no denying the fact that the base still exists, and the average of recent polls that Trump can expect to rely on at least 35% of the Republican Party, regardless of who he faces in a 2024 primary campaign.
Multiple polls have shown that when Trump faces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with no other candidates as an option, DeSantis comes within striking distance, and in some cases, DeSantis beats Trump in the head-to-head scenario. With Trump’s core base intact, DeSantis knows that he can’t afford to lose any potential votes to Republicans who don’t rank Trump first, but prefer a different opponent, such as Haley. Plurality, not a majority, is all Trump needs to win a state, and that becomes more attainable as the field of competition expands.
Should DeSantis join the 2024 race along with Haley, DeSantis will have to outperform Haley by such a large margin that her base of support doesn’t equal or surpass the difference of votes needed for DeSantis to overcome Trump’s support. Perhaps the biggest threat to DeSantis would be a candidacy by South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
The South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary is among the most pivotal in the country. Haley was elected to two terms as governor of the Palmetto State, so she can count on some of her strongest support arriving in that election. DeSantis would be up against the former President, as well as the state’s former governor, and sitting junior Senator. Haley would take some of the coveted suburban female voters away from DeSantis,Scott and Trump, but Trump can afford to lose a few percentage points in each demographic if the vote is divided four ways, because he knows that his loyal 35% will stay with him throughout his entire campaign.
When you look at the math, it’s so easy to see the advantage of a wider field that many pundits and consultants may start to questions if certain candidates entered the race with the sole intention of becoming president, or an ulterior motive to win favor with Trump and earn a spot on his ticket as his choice for Vice President. The next few months are sure to be full of speculation and interesting developments.