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Will Wayward Haley Voters Find Their Way Home?

Peggy GrandeMarch 20, 2024

Teenagers often go through a phase of self-discovery, which typically presents as rebellion. Usually it involves looking at their parents, declaring they have everything wrong, and vowing to blaze their own trail. That brave path eventually collides with reality when they begin to pay their own bills or see the high taxes removed from their paycheck. They come to the realization that maybe their parents were right about a few things.

Perhaps the Nikki Haley voters have gone through their own trail-blazing phase and will similarly return to where they started - the Republican Party – and Donald Trump.

With Haley out of the race, the 2024 United States Presidential race is down to a binary choice which has never provided such stark contrast - The Donald Trump “America First” party – or the Joe Biden “Eroding America” party.

Having two candidates with records to run on demystifies the “what-ifs” and negates the typical promises of one candidate vs. the accomplishments of the other. Trump’s record of policies, promises made vs. promises kept, and the state of the nation and the world under his leadership, exists for examination and reflection. As does Biden’s. The differences are immense, and the electorate can compare and decide based on their personal analysis of both side by side.

Enthusiastic supporters of each candidate are clear, but what is unclear is who the rest of America will choose – including former Nikki Haley supporters. But was there ever a real Haley base of voters in the first place? Were they mostly disgruntled, anti-Trump Republicans? Or primarily Democrats who wanted to be disruptors? Will they take their vote elsewhere? Or stay home and not vote at all?

Voter hesitation regarding Biden’s mental acuity or Trump’s brash personality have led many to say they don’t want either candidate, which is why there is increased interest in a third-party option. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. continues to pull support from the top of the race, more so from the Biden camp. A “no labels” group also says they will put forth their own slate of candidates soon, though their viability to muster a 50-state campaign remains in question.

Perhaps some homeless Haley voters will land with a third-party option. But many of her voters weren’t registered Republicans and were never going to vote Republican in the general election at all. Haley voters may not be enthusiastic about either of the leading candidates, but didn’t really like Haley either.

We know the country is divided, and so are the parties themselves. The Democrat Party continues to be tugged leftward by the progressives among them. Though this group is small in numbers, it currently controls both the narrative and the direction. The internal chasm is growing and is proving problematic for Joe Biden to navigate.

By contrast, on the right, the Republican Party is firmly aligned behind Donald Trump and the MAGA movement and is surprisingly unified. Unlike the Democrats, the anti-Trump Republicans are diminished in both numbers and power and are increasingly ignored as irrelevant by their own party. Their only credibility and amplification is coming from the left which continues to disparage the right - calling them extreme and a threat to democracy. This has only further fueled the right’s enthusiasm and unity.

The Republican Party is no longer the Bush – Cheney - Pence – Haley party of the past, but has vacated the ivory towers and country clubs of the globalists and embraced the working class, the middle class, the first-generation hard-working legal immigrants, people of color, blue-collar families, women, and young people.

Republicans now lead the conversations in energy, education, the economy, controlling immigration, and calming global unrest. These are the issues that matter to voters, including Haley supporters, who are increasingly looking to Republican leadership and solutions to the multiple crises which the Biden administration has created.

Haley voters are unhappy, feel disenfranchised, and are looking for someone to scratch their ideological itch.

Perhaps they are unhappy because they fear asking Ronald Reagan’s timeless campaign question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” They already know the answer is undeniably “no” and realize the cause of much of their displeasure is the current administration’s dangerous, costly, and harmful policies.

Wayward Republican Haley voters, like angsty teenagers, may be stuck accepting the reality that the only fix for their anger is to return to the very person they tried to run away from. Their head, though maybe not their heart, may lead them right back to Donald Trump, accepting the fact that he represents exactly what they stand for, even if it’s not packaged the way they wanted or preferred.

Peggy Grande was executive assistant to Ronald Reagan and is author of “The President Will See You Now.” She served in the Trump Administration and is an international television commentator and columnist.

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