June 17, 2024

decisive Haley bloc

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective                                                                     
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The decisive Haley bloc
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — Nikki Haley lost on Super Tuesday, but her supporters won, establishing themselves as the most sought-after bloc in American politics today.
          Haley declined to endorse Donald Trump, urging him to “earn” the support of that bloc – her bloc. But how does the man who called her “birdbrain, turn from nasty to nice and entice a Republican bloc of voters who said by 80-to-20 they would not vote for Trump.
          True, that will change over time especially if Haley eventually endorses Trump, which clearly would be an act of political hypocrisy. Some will indeed end up reluctantly voting for Trump. Some will stay home, some will seek out a third party, and some will vote for Biden. He has a case to make for their support, and he will be taking his clue from Haley’s campaign.
          Whatever she does in the future, Haley has framed the 2024 election. Her voters found their voice in her campaign, and they are the voters up for grabs in November.
          President Biden wasted no time in reaching out, praising Haley for her courageous run for the presidency and her equally courageous confrontation with what has become the party of Trump with the truth about Trump.
          She started out deferential to Trump, her former boss, who made her his ambassador to the United Nations. She found her voice in calling out Trump’s profligate spending, his failed promise to secure the border and his threats to abandon NATO.
          It should be remembered that Trump is an incumbent president one term removed with all the advantages and deference that come with the office, and, accordingly, he should have run the numbers as most incumbents do, as Biden did. He did not. He left 30 percent of the primary vote on the table, gratis of Haley, and that spells trouble down the road.
          Trump won 46 percent of the popular vote in 2016, enough to win the electoral college. In 2020, he upped his vote share to 47 percent, and lost the election. The 47 percent allowed him to boast he had won more votes than any president, which was true, but Joe Biden won nearly eight million more, winning the electoral college and the presidency.
          Trump never accepted the loss and through a combination of outright lies and the cultish allegiance of his followers, he has managed to persuade 70 percent of Republicans he was cheated out of the presidency and should be re-instated after a re-match with Biden.
          Haley exposed the fatal flaw in Trump’s third bid for the presidency, and that is in the numbers. He cannot afford to lose 30 percent, or even 20 percent of the Republican vote. Those voters identified by Haley are suburban women and more urban people in general, people with college educations who have had enough of Trump with his lies and bullying behavior.
          Her voters do not like Trump for a variety of reasons including his denigrating of her military husband for being away from home while deployed overseas. They remember Trump saying the late Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., was “not a war hero” because he was captured. McCain spent five years in captivity in Vietnam. “I like people who aren’t captured,” said Trump, who avoided military service.
          The Super Tuesday data suggests a range of outcomes in the battleground states. Trump’s advisors think he can win once again, as he did in 2016, with narrow majorities in those states, but the Biden campaign sees the Haley factor and the 30 percent solution it holds. He knows what Trump must know: a candidate cannot win if a sizeable portion of his or her party is disenchanted with the party’s nominee.
          So, at a time when both candidates should be courting independents, Trump, chameleon-like, will be chasing after Haley’s voters. It is a losing scenario.
          Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2024 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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