Nikki Haley can't win Republican primary with 40%. But she can reveal Trump's flaws. (Part-1)

Grand Rapids — Trump's campaign has sworn to stop discussing her. Many pundits have dismissed her. Nikki Haley is currently campaigning nationwide, and Republican voters are listening.

Haley is making her case after losing the primary in her home state of South Carolina to packed crowds in states that will vote on Super Tuesday next week: About 40% of GOP voters prefer her to Trump, suggesting their party's leader is vulnerable in a November rematch with Joe Biden.

He lost 40% of the primary vote in all of the early states,” she told over 500 people at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Minnesota, a politically mixed suburb, on Monday. Without that 40%, you can't win the general election.

Trump could eliminate Haley by winning the GOP nomination a few weeks later with several hundred more delegates on Super Tuesday. By staying in the race longer than any other major candidate, Haley has exposed Trump's political issues with crucial party voters and called him a “sinking ship.”

Trump won 51% of Iowa caucuses, 54% of New Hampshire primaries, and 60% of South Carolina. Haley lost the Michigan primary this week to Trump by 68% to 27%.

Haley did better in suburban Oakland County near Detroit and Ottawa County near Grand Rapids, as she has throughout the primary. She did better in Kent County, home to Grand Rapids and its suburbs. By flipping Kent County and improving on Democrats' 2016 result in Oakland County, Biden won Michigan and upset Trump in 2020.

Richard Czuba, a pollster who has long tracked Michigan politics, said Haley's results were more important for understanding a key swing state in the general election than the campaign to vote “uncommitted” against Biden to protest his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, which garnered 100,000 votes and two Democratic delegates.

I think this is the only narrative we saw Tuesday that will matter in November, Czuba added. After defeating Haley in South Carolina, Trump did not mention her, and his campaign has accused her of deceiving voters. “She can’t name one state she can win, let alone be competitive in,” spokesperson Steven Cheung said.

Haley refused to name a state she could win when questioned by The Associated Press and others. However, AP VoteCast data from the Republican primary and interviews with three dozen voters at her rallies reveal several vulnerabilities for Trump in a Biden rematch.

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