January 24, 2024

GOP 2024 delegate futures


President Trump is going to go into Nevada next and take all 26 delegates. You read that right.  Thanks to weird rules in Nevada where they are holding a primary and a caucus, Trump is not on the primary ballot, and Haley is not on the caucus ballot. The GOP is counting the caucus results for the delegates. That will put Trump at 58, and Haley at 17.

I'm willing to bet she uses that to paint the GOP as being stacked against her, that she's the outsider. That's rich.  Only the donor class and Democrats want to see her win the nomination.

After Nevada comes South Carolina. Nikki Haley's home state. She's going to get trounced there. There are 50 delegates up for grabs and with a 30 point lead as of this writing, I'd expect Trump to take at least 35 of the 50 delegates, probably more. Assuming he wins 35/50, that would put the delegate total at Trump 93, Haley at 32.

Sure, at that point it's still early and she can make the argument that she's still got a fighting chance. But the symbolic nature of losing your home state cannot be overlooked.  

Hot on the heels of South Carolina is Michigan's primary, where Trump leads Haley by 34% in the latest poll (I could find, as of this writing). Of the 55 delegates, 39 will be allocated by caucus (about  a week after the primary) and the remainder based on the results of the primary. Given the polling lead, I'd expect Trump to get another 40 delegates from Michigan.  The one caveat I'd throw at that is that Michigan has an open primary. There could be a lot of Democrat cross-contamination. And while Haley would definitely benefit from that in terms of pure numbers, it severely damages her brand.

At that point his lead would be widened to 133 delegates versus 47 for Haley. The absolute margin is not huge, given that 1215 delegates are needed to win the nomination. But having lost her own state by this point and clearly with only about of a quarter of the delegates won (between her and Trump), justifying staying in the race until Super Tuesday, is a really tough sell. She's damaging her brand, not Trump's. Unless that's her secret goal, and we know it's not, then she has to be just selling out to the donor class for some sort of payoff down the road.

In the other scenario, where there's a lot of crossover Democrats voting for Haley, Trump still is likely to get at least 30 of the caucus delegates and half of the primary delegates. That would put him at 38 delegates in Michigan rather than my already conservative estimate of 40.  The outcome is relatively unchanged.

There's no point in looking into Idaho, Missouri, D.C. and North Dakota primaries which all happen before the 16 Super Tuesday states (not at this point; a lot can happen between now and then). The results of those states are likely to mirror their predecessors.

Nikki Haley has no path to victory. After 5 races, she'll have 5 second place finishes, some of them she'll be a distant second.  After 9 races she'll have 8 or 9 second place finishes. Washington D.C. may prefer her to Trump, so what? If this were a boxing match, the doctor would have stopped the fight long before the 9th round. 

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