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Nikki Haley campaign pushed to brink after Super Tuesday trouncing

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican Nikki Haley suffered a string of significant losses on Tuesday that prompted allies to believe that the end of her 2024 presidential campaign may be near.

She did not make any public statements as officials counted ballots coast to coast late into the night. Privately, Haley’s team expected Republican rival Donald Trump to win almost every one of the so-called “Super Tuesday” contests despite their best efforts to stop him.

Haley logged her only victory so far in Vermont.

She spent the night huddled with staff watching returns near her South Carolina home.

“The mood is jubilant,” spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said. “There is lots of food and music.”

Despite the party atmosphere, the campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts fell short and Haley could face growing pressure to suspend her campaign in the coming days. She entered Super Tuesday as a huge underdog in the Republican presidential nomination contest, and she left the day having suffered a series of losses that will make it virtually impossible to stop Trump from securing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump is expected to win the necessary 1,215 delegates to become the GOP’s presumptive nominee later this month. During previous election nights, he has criticized Haley in personal terms, but on Tuesday he made no mention of her at all during remarks at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Haley’s departure would mark a painful blow to voters, donors and Republican Party officials who opposed Trump and his fiery brand of “Make America Great Again” politics. She was especially popular among moderates and college-educated voters, constituencies that play a pivotal role in general elections, but represent a minority of Republican primary voters.

New York-based Republican donor Eric Levine, a fierce Trump critic, said he was disappointed by Tuesday’s results and would respect whatever decision she makes about the future of her campaign.

“I’m proud to have supported her and would be proud to support her in the future,” Levine said.

Haley spent recent weeks aggressively warning the GOP against embracing Trump, whom she argued was far too consumed by chaos and personal grievance to defeat President Joe Biden in the general election this fall. But she was never able to break through with the party’s passionate, Trump-loyal base.

Still, Haley’s allies note that she exceeded most of the political world’s expectations by making it as far as she did.

Her candidacy was slow to attract donors and support after launching in February 2023. But she ultimately outlasted all of her other GOP rivals, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, fellow South Carolinian Sen. Tim Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Her candidacy was fueled by moderate voters — and even some Democrats.

In South Carolina and Iowa’s primary contests, about 4 in 10 Haley voters supported Biden nearly four years ago, according to AP VoteCast. Roughly half of her New Hampshire voters cast ballots for Biden.

Such voters represent a minority within the GOP. They constituted anywhere between 11% and 24% of GOP voters in each of the three contests, putting a low ceiling on her support. Many of Haley’s remaining supporters said they voted third party or didn’t vote in the 2020 general election, also a distinct minority of voters in GOP nominating contests.

Trump’s voters, meanwhile, were overwhelmingly white, mostly older than 50 and generally without a college degree.

But if Haley lacked broad popular support within the party, she had strong backing among people willing to spend money to help the last remaining GOP alternative to Trump.

She out-raised the former president in January. And her campaign said it raised more than $12 million in February alone.

On Sunday, she made history as the first woman to win a Republican presidential primary when she beat Trump in the District of Columbia. But as the votes were counted late Tuesday, her chances of building on that breakthrough had diminished considerably.

Steve Peoples, The Associated Press

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