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Nikki Haley and Donald Trump face off

Nikki Haley and Donald Trump face off

 


South Carolina voters are voting Saturday to decide between former President Donald Trump or their former governor, Nikki Haley.

Polls close at 7 p.m. ET, after which votes will be counted and the winner announced. Haley plans to speak once the winner is declared. Trump is hosting a watch party in South Carolina where he is also expected to speak.

South Carolina has an open primary, meaning voters of any party can vote in the Republican primary as long as they haven't already voted in the Democratic primary, which President Joe Biden won on 3 FEBRUARY.

As South Carolinians head to the polls, Trump has a roughly 30-point lead over Haley, according to a February survey from USA Today and Suffolk University, dashing any hopes of a home-field advantage.

Would Haley's defeat end the primary?

Haley vowed Tuesday to stay in the race at least until Super Tuesday on March 5, regardless of the results in South Carolina. Her campaign confirmed it has the funds to stay afloat after a month of record fundraising in January.

“We have the resources to go the distance,” a Haley campaign spokesperson told CNBC on Tuesday.

Republican candidates need 1,215 delegates to secure the nomination. Trump currently has 63 to Haley's 17. Until Haley drops out of college, the Republican primary will continue to be a two-horse race, much to Trump's dismay.

But even with her funding and determination, Haley's campaign faces a difficult road ahead.

Haley's campaign has tempered expectations over the past week, arguing that she does not need to win South Carolina to build momentum in future primaries. The former UN ambassador has yet to win a race this primary season, although she managed to eke out a narrower defeat against Trump in New Hampshire due to the large population of undeclared voters in the state.

South Carolina is much less undecided. In addition to leading in the polls, Trump enjoys the support of local GOP chapters in South Carolina, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace and other state lawmakers. State. Trump also has a good record in the Palmetto State, having won the GOP primary in 2016 and winning 55% of the vote in 2020 against Joe Biden.

Where are the candidates on key South Carolina issues?

South Carolinians have immigration and the economy on their minds when they vote, mirroring sentiments nationally. According to the February USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 42% of likely South Carolina GOP voters consider immigration the most important issue, while 26% prioritize the economy.

So far, Trump has made immigration a central pillar of his campaign, pledging to reinstate his immigration bans and carry out militarized mass deportations that he intends to make far more aggressive than his first term in office. the White House.

Despite his hardline approach to border security, Trump simultaneously worked behind the scenes to defeat a bipartisan border deal in Congress that would have provided $20 billion in border funding.

Trump reportedly asked Republican lawmakers to torpedo the bill so he could continue lambasting Biden and Haley for their immigration positions on the campaign trail.

Haley criticized Trump for derailing the bill: “Donald Trump, the last thing he needs to do is tell them to wait until the election to pass the border deal.”

Haley herself has a hardline record on immigration, despite the Trump campaign's attempts to portray her as weak on the issue. She said she would defund sanctuary cities, close the border and deport illegal immigrants.

Under the Biden administration, South Carolina's economy has improved.

The state's unemployment rate is 3 percent, down from 3.3 percent a year ago and below the national average of 3.7 percent. The state was also a major beneficiary of Biden's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which invested in electric vehicles, which has created more than 12,000 jobs so far. Inflation in the state is slowly cooling to 4.3% compared to the national rate of 3.1%.

However, Trump and Haley have repeatedly criticized Biden's economy. Their economic agendas both tend to include similar rhetoric of cracking down on trade with China and cutting taxes.

Haley's economic agenda, dubbed the Freedom Plan, centers on tax breaks for the middle class, boosting small businesses and eliminating Biden's $500 billion investment in clean energy projects, including South Carolina benefited.

Trump would also cancel Biden's IRA, restore his first-term tax cuts, which mostly benefited the wealthy, and impose major tax increases on foreign goods, specifically to restrict trade with China . During his first term, Trump's tariffs on China nearly sparked a trade war, which disrupted the global economy and raised prices for consumers.

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