Democrats holding out to vote for Haley in South Carolina GOP primary?


Despite a major push from the Biden campaign and national Democrats for strong turnout in the South Carolina primary, the vote count was far below what was recorded in the 2020 nominating contest as some registered Democrats eye the GOP primary later this month.

The primary election was called for President Joe Biden shortly after the polls closed at 7 p.m., with the president earning 96% of the vote and easily besting his two challengers, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and author Marianne Williamson. But with 85% of the results tallied, only 124,342 ballots were cast — far below the 539,263 who voted in the Democratic primary in 2020.

Democrats were concerned about low turnout numbers as some polling places were mostly empty throughout the day, with some locations reporting only a couple dozen votes by mid-afternoon.

While the race is largely uncompetitive and Biden is poised to clinch the party’s nomination, Democrats wanted a strong showing to demonstrate enthusiasm for the 81-year-old president and his decision to elevate South Carolina to the coveted first-in-the-nation primary slot. Biden had pushed for voters of color to have a bigger say in picking the Democratic Party nominee after South Carolina, which is 26% black, saved his presidential campaign in 2020.

Phillips, who sat in last place as the votes were being tallied on Saturday, seized on the low turnout, pointing to the numbers as evidence of low enthusiasm for the incumbent.

“I congratulate the president for getting the most votes tonight,” Phillips said in a statement. “But the lack of voter enthusiasm for a Trump-Biden rematch is being reflected in each and every Democratic primary result this election. Voters are disappointed that they lack options beyond the choice between a threat to the fabric of the nation and a good man who voters want to pass the baton.”

Some Democrats may be holding out to vote in the Republican primary later this month. South Carolina conducts open primaries, meaning registered voters can cast their ballot in either primary regardless of party affiliation.

As a result, some Democrats may be planning to vote for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the GOP primary instead to thwart former President Donald Trump’s momentum and block him from winning the Republican Party nomination. One group, Primary Pivot, sent thousands of text messages to South Carolina residents who voted in the Democratic primary in 2020, urging them to sit out Saturday’s contest and vote for Haley later this month.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley takes pictures with supporters following a campaign event on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Haley indicated she was unaware of those efforts but told reporters on Thursday she would accept support from anyone as she vies for the GOP nomination.

“Any time I do an event, we don’t ask people at the door if they’re a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent,” Haley said. “What we say is: ‘Do you want something different in our country?’ I’m going to continue doing that. If we get Republicans, that’s what I’m shooting for — we welcome that. If we get Independents, I welcome that. And if we get Republican Democrats, Reagan Democrats that want to come in, I’m going to take it.”

Democrats saw a similar strategy in New Hampshire when several left-leaning independents voted in the GOP primary to support Haley, accounting for 70% of her support.

South Carolina Democrats sought to discourage voters from doing that, pointing to her conservative record as the state’s former governor.

“We know that she’s the mother of the MAGA movement,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman Christale Spain said Saturday. “Haley had already signed an extreme abortion ban into law with no exceptions for rape or incest. Nikki Haley refuses Medicaid here in South Carolina.

“South Carolinians know who she is,” she added. “So whatever they’re trying to do, I don’t think South Carolinians are going to go for it.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post