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What Will Haley Voters Do?

Although Donald Trump won a decisive victory in South Carolina, 40% of the Republican primary voters cast their ballot for Nikki Haley. Some of those voters may have been Democrats, since South Carolina holds open primaries. Still, many were surely Republicans. A huge question is what the Haley voters will do in November. This precinct-level map shows how well she did. The greener the precinct, the better she did; the redder the precinct, the better Trump did.

Precinct-level map of South Carolina primary election results

Haley did best in the cities, especially, Charleston, Columbia, Seneca, Greenville, and Spartanburg, as well as some smaller ones. These are places where the Republicans tend to be more affluent and better-educated than their fellow partisans in deep-red rural precincts. These are voters that Joe Biden will try to pick off in neighboring North Carolina and Georgia; South Carolina is a waste of time for him.

The New York Times interviewed 40 Haley voters to see what they will do in November. Patti Gramling (72) said: "Biden is too old. And I think Donald Trump is horrible." She is what pollsters are calling a "double hater," and many Haley voters fall into this category.

All of them are angry about the choice they are about to be presented with. About half of the people interviewed said they would hold their noses and vote for Trump, flaws and all. Most likely the actual percentage will be higher, since in the end, many voters "come home," even when they dislike their party's candidate. Even people who called Trump "arrogant" and "stupid" said they would be forced to vote for him because the alternative was too hard to swallow. One recent Marist poll put the percentage of Haley voters who would ultimately come home to Trump at 82%.

A number of others said they just wouldn't vote. Trump is completely unacceptable to them for many reasons, but Biden is too old. There were also people in the sample who are nominal Democrats but feel the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left for them. For them, Haley is a good choice. Some of them might come home as well, since the Democratic candidate will be Joe Biden, not Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO).

Reuters also interviewed 15 Haley voters. Of these, six said they would vote for a third-party candidate, four said they would vote for Biden. The rest weren't sure. A number of them were upset that Trump has abandoned many traditional Republican goals, like free markets, lower debt, and less government. When two of them were interviewed together, they argued about whether the MAGA crowd was "stupid" or merely "easily duped." None of them were happy with the upcoming choice. (V)

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