Trump Bruised by Another Brutal Haley Protest Vote in Pennsylvania Primary

Curtis Means/Reuters
Curtis Means/Reuters

Donald Trump may well have had the Republican nomination in the bag for weeks now, but legions of GOP voters are still apparently unable to stomach the idea of casting their ballots for him.

The former president was given another reminder of the scale of his problem on Tuesday with the Pennsylvania primary. Nikki Haley, who axed her own campaign over a month ago, managed to take 16.5 percent of the vote.

Nikki Haley Nabs More Votes Than Ron DeSantis in FLORIDA

Trump, the only candidate still actually running, therefore easily won the primary with 83.5 percent, according to the Associated Press. But the problem for Trump is that Haley’s 16.5 percent amounts to more than 155,000 votes. In other words, 155,000 Republicans chose to support a defunct campaign instead of Trump in a key battleground state where, in 2016, he beat Hillary Clinton by fewer than 45,000 votes.

The result is part of a pattern that has played out across the primary season, with Trump winning by large margins but facing potentially concerning protest votes. Haley took over 10 percent of the vote in GOP primaries held earlier this month in Wisconsin, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut. It’s not yet clear how many of those voting for the former South Carolina governor will actually fall in behind Trump when it’s a straight choice between him and President Joe Biden come November.

“Nikki Haley dropped out of the race over a month ago, yet she is polling nicely in PA,” Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as Trump’s White House communications director, wrote in a post on X. “Trump has no shot to win the presidency. Write it down and study it. And if you are with him: CRY.”

Biden, of course, has been navigating a protest vote movement of his own from critics of his support for Israel during its war against Hamas in Gaza. That effort continued in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where the “Abandon Biden” group encouraged people to write in “NO JOE” as an equivalent protest to the “uncommitted” vote that has tormented the Biden campaign in other states.

As with Trump, Biden has also seen the protest flare up in battleground states. In Michigan, over 101,000 people—13.2 percent of the vote—went for “uncommitted.” It’s not yet clear if the Abandon Biden group reached its goal of securing 40,000 protest votes.

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