She has no chance of winning.

And yet, she remains in the race.

Nikki Haley, the last candidate to face Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, suffered another electoral setback on Saturday February 24 in South Carolina.

Perhaps the most personally hurtful setback, since she was governor of this state from 2011 to 2017.

This new defeat does not discourage her, however.

Nikki Haley reiterated Saturday night that she will continue to fight.

“I am not giving up this fight,” she told her supporters during a rally in Charleston.

Until when ?

Only she knows.

After Michigan next Tuesday, then Idaho, Missouri and North Dakota, the next big electoral event will be Super Tuesday on March 5.

Around twenty states will then vote, and should, according to polls, drive home the point and strengthen the dominance of Donald Trump with a view to the party's nomination this summer.

All analysts agree: reversing this trend would be a miracle for Nikki Haley.

The question is rather why it continues.

And the first reason is obvious: it’s because she has the means.

The crux of any electoral campaign in the United States is money.

Nikki Haley has no shortage of them.

She raised $11 million in January, and her super PAC (Political Action Committee, an organization independent of the campaign) raised another 12 over the same period.

Figures higher than those of Donald Trump's campaign (8.8 million dollars raised in January by his campaign, and 7.3 million raised by his largest super PAC).

Plan B

How can a candidate doomed to failure continue to receive so much money?

What do these donors see in Nikki Haley?

For some, it would be a plan B in the event of the death or conviction of Donald Trump - 77 years old and 91 criminal charges to his credit - before the inauguration.

For others, in the longer term, we need to think about the post-Trump era, and supporting Nikki Haley today helps prepare the ground for that.

The candidate, accustomed to the role of the outsider since throughout her career - she has won several surprise electoral victories - answers journalists' questions without really completely resolving the mystery of her motivation.

First of all, she makes it clear: unlike the primary candidates who threw in the towel, she is not seeking a position in the future Trump administration.

Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the UN during Donald Trump's term, was until recently a serious option on the billionaire's list of potential vice presidents.

But since the start of the year, she has redoubled her attacks against the former head of state.

The latter hardly appreciates the lack of loyalty: he therefore made Nikki Haley his new target.

He even has a new nickname for her: “bird brain.”

In a speech given on February 20 to reaffirm her remaining in the race, the latter certified that she did not fear “the punishment of Trump”.

"I feel no need to kiss the ring. My own political future is not a cause for concern."

“We are not in Russia”

If she remains in the race - at least until Super Tuesday, according to the AP agency, to which she gave an interview - it is simply out of principle, says Nikki Haley: "Ten days after South Carolina , 20 other states vote. What I mean by that is that we're not in Russia. We don't want to see someone come in and let them pocket 99% of the votes."

To the AP journalist who points out that she has no chance of winning these states, she retorts: "Instead of asking me which states I am going to win, why don't we ask how he (Trump , Editor's note) will win a presidential election after spending an entire year in court?"

According to her, a conviction before election day, November 5, is a real possibility.

But this is to assume that he could not be elected in the event of conviction, which is legally false (nothing prohibits it in the Constitution) and remains to be proven politically.

Regardless, Nikki Haley wants to be straight in her boots.

In her speech on February 20, she said she was “fighting” for what she “knows is right”.

“I don’t believe that Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden,” she repeated Saturday evening, as she does from meeting to meeting.

According to her, the United States deserves a better candidate.

Vain crusade?

However, despite her stubbornness in challenging Trump in the primaries, she indicated last July that she would ultimately support him if he obtained the nomination.

This week, she seemed to evade that question.

Perhaps because she is aware that this is the most important contradiction inherent in her candidacy.

If she believes so strongly in the reasons why she stays in the race, why end up supporting a candidate she thinks has no chance of winning?

To be able to taunt his Republican camp with an “I told you so” in the event of Trump’s defeat against Biden?

The case of Nikki Haley raises the broader question of the nature of the Republican Party.

The rebel candidate is ready to fall into line once the primaries are over: she therefore thinks she still has her place in the Great Old Party.

She perhaps even secretly hopes, as her donors do, to position herself to lead her party to victory in 2028, in a post-Trump political life.

Interviewed by the New York Times, Kevin Madden, a former Republican consultant, believes that this campaign helped Nikki Haley to become known nationally and to create a network and an infrastructure useful the day she runs for the White House .

An analysis which seems to start from the postulate that the Republican Party would undergo a sort of return to normal in 2028. However, even if Donald Trump is no longer there, there is no guarantee that his voters, seduced by his anti- system, will return to a more moderate candidate close to the establishment, like Nikki Haley.

Everything happens as if the candidate was leading a crusade for the future of a party which is already no longer hers.

Others have broken their teeth before her.

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