South Carolina politics: Some expect Biden vs. Trump in November, but others aren’t ruling out Nikki Haley

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., (WBTW) — South Carolina Democrats will go to the polls on Saturday to vote in the party’s first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential primary, while Republican voters will have to wait until Feb. 24.

While Democrats have no significant challenger to President Joe Biden, many are wondering if former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley can gain ground on former President Donald Trump to have a shot at the Oval Office in November.

Haley trails by double digits in most polls, and she finished second to Trump in the recent New Hampshire Primary; New Hampshire did not have a Democratic primary.

“South Carolina is a strong Trump country,” said David White, a political science professor at Francis Marion University. “I’ve never met Nikki Haley, but I have come to learn to never underestimate her.”

Haley has made campaign stops in Conway and in the Upstate, shedding light on her plans, while also attacking Trump.

“I voted for Donald Trump twice,” Haley said recently. “I was proud to serve America and his administration. The problem is chaos follows him.”

Despite losses in New Hampshire and Iowa, Haley said she is staying in the race.

“I think Trump is definitely the favorite,” White said. “Haley has to build that support, and it’s going to take a lot of work and money.”

After New Hampshire’s GOP primary, Haley launched a $4 million advertising campaign in South Carolina. Trump has not bought any ad time here yet.

“One of the biggest things Haley is known for is leading the Confederate flag coming down off of the Statehouse grounds,” White said. “Some people were supportive and some are still upset about it. I can see them not supporting Nikki Haley.”

So far, Trump has not made any campaign stops in the state, but he plans to speak at a Black conservative gala in Columbia on Feb. 23, the day before the GOP primary.

Black voters in South Carolina were largely credited for Biden winning the state’s primary and general elections in 2020.

“Joe Biden credits South Carolina for leading into the presidency four years ago,” White said. “That’s why he wanted to sort of reward South Carolina and make it first in the Democratic presidential selection process.”

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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.

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