After months of speculation, the central question of “Will he? Won’t he?” was finally answered Tuesday night. Former President Donald Trump announced he would be running in 2024 for another term in the White House in a special event hosted at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
While several GOP contenders are considering running, it is too early to say whether the field will be as crowded as it was in 2016, when Trump first ran. Already, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, one of the hopefuls, bowed out citing “family concerns,” as reported by Politico.
But in South Carolina, which has so far been a major stronghold for the former president, a Nov. 2022 poll by Winthrop University showed that Trump could possibly face some competition in the state for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Even as she hasn’t formally announced a run, half of the registered Republican voters in SC think that former SC Gov. Nikki Haley should run for president in 2024, the latest poll said.
Pollsters asked respondents who they would support if both Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2024.
SC Republican voters, about 45% of the ones polled, favored Trump. However, about 37% picked Haley −an eight percentage point difference that is the first indication of Haley’s regional influence. The margin of error in the statistical analysis of the responses was around 5%, which means that Haley and Trump are very close in competition, said Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon.
“She’s still she’s a very popular figure in Republican circles. She was the governor of the state, she left the Trump administration without too many scars and scrapes and she’s considered to be by many at least one of the rising figures,” said longtime South Carolina based political consultant Chip Felkel.
“Haley has a strong showing against the former president, who is popular within his party,” Huffmon said in another press statement and in sync with Felkel. “Since this was conducted before the disappointing midterm results, for which many Republicans blame Trump, her star may have risen even further.”
The 2022 mid-term elections saw several high-profile Trump-endorsed candidates losing competitive races in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan and threw into question Trump’s dominance in the Republican Party. USA Today has reported instances where Trump’s closest allies advised him not to announce his candidacy so early in the election cycle.
As for statewide officials, hours after his announcement, the Post and Courier reported that Gov. Henry McMaster had endorsed the former president.
But could his announcements deter challengers?
Back in 2021, Haley told the Associated Press that she would not consider running in 2024 if Trump announced a second run.
Both Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, based on their travels to states such as Iowa and New Hampshire that host Republican primaries, have showcased a pattern of fundraising and building connections suited to a major national player and pushed them into the spotlight as presidential hopefuls for 2024.
Offices and spokespersons for Haley and Scott have not yet returned calls and emails from The Greenville News about reactions to Trump’s announcement.
“We need to have a competitive, healthy primary process,” Felkel said. “And it’s certainly my hope that whether it’s Haley or Ron DeSantis from Florida, or Asa Hutchinson from Arkansas, or Scott, that they would they would recognize that the there’s time to turn the page and they would not let Trump’s presence deter them.”
During the midterm elections in SC, a mix of Trump-endorsed candidates sailed to victory in races that either ran unopposed or were focused on partisan voting. Some of these candidates, like newly elected U.S. House Rep. Russell Fry, were first-time challengers. While some, such as Gov. Henry McMaster, were incumbents.
But where regional influence was pitted against national rhetoric, especially during the June 14 primaries, where Trump-backed Katie Arrington lost to U.S. House Rep. Nancy Mace, R-SC, Trump’s influence did not inspire the same confidence.
Mace, who was backed by Haley, overcame Arrington and was re-elected to the House for her second term during the midterms.
Felkel said that the odds in the Winthrop poll were a great number for Haley given the sway Trump seems to hold over the Republican Party. “Now, she’s got to be able to translate that in states where she hasn’t been the governor.”
Scott, who is serving his last term in the Senate and was first propelled to Washington D.C. by Haley during her tenure as a Gov., has also been looked at as a potential 2024 hopeful, especially since his track record in fundraising has caused some political watchers to refer to him as a “kingmaker.”
Scott has raised over $50 million since 2017.
Though in the past, Scott, too, has been reticent about clearly stating his goals for the next couple of years and has seemed like someone “who never wanted the spotlight.”