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Trump Sweeps Super Tuesday Races; Nikki Haley to Drop Out of Presidential Race. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 06:00   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's Wednesday, March 6, right now on CNN THIS MORNING.



DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They call it Super Tuesday for a reason. This is a big one.


HUNT: Donald Trump, dominant on Super Tuesday, pulling off a near sweep that could spell the end for his only real primary opponent left in the race.

And President Biden hoping to drive home two key points when he delivers his State of the Union address: why he's fit for a second term, and why Donald Trump is not.

And Nikki Haley is still hanging on. But for how long, after seeing her hopes all but slip away on Super Tuesday?

A live look at the White House right there in front of the Washington Monument. They're still not awake there. Come on, guys. It's 6 a.m. here on the East Coast.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

It looks like that November rematch that most Americans tell us they don't want, well, it's exactly what we're all going to get, after Donald Trump's near sweep on Super Tuesday.

Trump dominating nearly every race, winning by big margins in state after state and now closing in pretty quickly on the 1,215 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination.


TRUMP: They call it Super Tuesday for a reason. This is a big one. And they tell me the pundits, and otherwise, that there's never been one like this. There's never been anything so conclusive. This was an amazing, an amazing night, an amazing day.


HUNT: Nikki Haley did win her first state, Vermont, keeping Trump from running the table. But she's got no events on her calendar, and her future is uncertain.

On the Democratic side, President Biden's sweeping all the Super Tuesday states. He did not win in American Samoa.

He's turning his focus to November. Biden's campaign out with a new memo this morning, calling Trump a "wounded, dangerous, and unpopular" man. And this: quote, "We have a clear path to victory."

Let's discuss all this and more with "New York Times" White House correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs; David Polyansky, former DeSantis deputy campaign manager. We've got Bakari Sellers, CNN political commentator and former South Carolina state representative. And Geoff Duncan, the former Georgia lieutenant governor. Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.

Bakari, you had a very late night. I'm particularly grateful to you --


HUNT: -- for coming in early.

SELLERS: I had to be here for the American Samoa verdict.

HUNT: There you go. And I hate to kind of call you out right off the top, but you did have predictions. You thought Haley was going to win Alaska, Utah and Maine. Vermont was missing.

SELLERS: Yes. I know. I was --

HUNT: How did you forget about Vermont?


SELLERS: She actually got destroyed in Alaska. Utah was a little bit closer. Vermont was like -- I mean, Maine was slightly closer, but she did well in Vermont. I mean, that's what you want when you want to be the Republican nominee: Vermont and the District of Columbia.

HUNT: The District of Columbia? Yes. "The Queen of the Swamp," quote unquote.

David, thank you for -- this is your first tour with us here in the mornings. I really appreciate you being here.

POLYANSKY: Thank you.

HUNT: Talk to me a little bit about how you see Haley's future in the context of what just happened with Donald Trump. I mean, you obviously ran against Trump when you were part of the DeSantis campaign. He handled the aftermath of his, you know, early losses in a different way than she has. What should she do next? POLYANSKY: Well, look, the race was all but decided the night in Iowa,

a very cold night. But on January 15 for the Republican nomination was won when you allowed Donald Trump to get over 50 percent of Iowa caucus goers, the race concluded.

And so every candidate and campaign had to make a decision at that point, not only for 24, but for their own futures going forward. What was the best pathway for them?

In our case, Ron DeSantis decided to we go back and serve as governor of Florida and, you know, make decisions about his future then.

If I had been advising Nikki Haley, I probably would have fought through New Hampshire, given the independent and Democrat crossover. But going home and losing by such a wide margin in her home state, that probably, as an adviser, I would have recommended that be the end.

And unfortunately for her, taking so many losses last night, to Bakari's point, up and down the country. And by significant margins in some cases, 80 percent going to Trump. That's not recoverable. Not only obviously for this cycle, but going forward, she's just not going to be the party's standard bearer.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Watching the results come in yesterday, I was thinking about how you -- it seemed like Nikki Haley really never found the right sort of way or consistent message for criticizing the former president.


She, at times, tried to make it a generational sort of argument, both talking about the age of former President Trump and President Biden, saying that she was sort of -- represented a new generation coming in.

But not often also directly taking on the former president, really until after Iowa, as well.

And -- and I think that that did play into this a little bit. She, in a way, represented a bit of the old Republican Party and the old establishment, and it -- you know, yesterday as the results were coming in, it was hard not to think about that.

HUNT: Yes. One of the things that I think helped -- kept Haley in the race longer than perhaps many would have expected was the way Donald Trump talked about her after the New Hampshire primary.

So he was on better behavior, from his advisers' perspective, when he was onstage last night, but he also talked about her much differently on talk radio. So he clearly knows his audiences.

Let's watch first what he had to say onstage last night.


TRUMP: We have a great Republican Party with tremendous talent. And we want to have unity, and we're going to have unity. And it's going to happen very quickly. And I have been saying lately, success will bring unity to our country.


HUNT: All right, so there he said onstage, tremendous talent in the Republican Party. We want to have unity. That's going to happen.

Now, listen to what he had to say on the Mark Levine show. He was not terribly complimentary.


TRUMP (via phone): At the beginning, she was very nice, very respectful, and then she's gone crazy. And I've never seen anything like it. She's gone off the wagon. I'd never seen -- she got so angry. She's a bitter person. I never saw her as that.


HUNT: All right. So Trump describes her as an angry, a bitter -- a bitter person.

I do also want to just update everyone. The Haley campaign did just send out a release saying that she is going to deliver remarks in Charleston today at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Our teams are working on sorting through exactly what this announcement could be.

Obviously, she had a tough night last night on Super Tuesday. Very unclear what her path forward could be.

Geoff, let's talk about the Haley voters and Haley supporters. I mean, this -- this Biden campaign memo that came out at five really talks about how those people represent an opportunity for the president of the United States. Where do you think these voters are going to go?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, Donald Trump's going to squander the opportunity to actually build bridges with these folks that supported Nikki Haley.

What we've seen show up as an average of about 35 percent state to state is crossed up through this point in the primaries. You know, there's -- Nikki's work was important in this process.

She quantified the -- the heartburn inside the Republican Party that just is consistent. Folks that don't believe -- they're Republicans; they're conservative. They're like me, but they don't believe that the 2020 election was rigged.

They're fiscally conservative. They're former Republicans that Donald Trump alienated throughout his last umpteen years of doing exactly what he's done.

And they're Democrats who used to be Republicans. That's just -- that's a 35 percent grouping that is really quantifiable heartburn. And it's important work. You know, it's interesting to hear Donald Trump call her angry, right?

Nice and sweet or whatever his words were, the first parts of the campaign, which I think was a mistake on her -- on her part. I think it was a mistake on hers and Ron DeSantis's.

But when -- she's not angry, she was just being honest and truthful and calling out Donald Trump for what he is. And that's a liar.

SELLERS: You know, the weird part about this race, though, is that it's really hard to dictate a determined Nikki Haley's future, because this election, even last night's shellacking, was not a referendum on Nikki Haley.

I mean, the people who voted for Donald Trump were always going to vote for Donald Trump. And the people who voted for Nikki Haley are the Geoff Duncans of the world.

HUNT: Yes.

SELLERS: Right? And so that -- it's unique. I believe she has a path forward in 2028 or whatever, because you know what she also has is she raised $28 million in between January and February. And I know she didn't spend all that money.

HUNT: Let me pause, because we do have some breaking news here, just into CNN.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HUNT: Nikki Haley will announce today that she is exiting the presidential race, according to sources familiar with her plans. She plans to address supporters in Charleston at 10 a.m. today.

With us now is Kylie Atwood. She is in South Carolina and is the person who broke this news for us.

Kylie, what have you learned?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we're learning, according to sources familiar with Nikki Haley's campaign, that she is going to announce today that she is suspending that presidential campaign.

This comes after she has been running for president for more than a year. But it also comes after last night. She suffered losses across the board on Super Tuesday, her campaign saying just moments ago that she is set to deliver remarks this morning in Charleston. That is her hometown, her -- and her home state of South Carolina, at 10 a.m.


So we will watch to see that speech from her.

And I do want to point out that last night, we heard from the campaign spokesperson, thanking the Americans who have voted for Nikki Haley, saying that there are millions of them. And also pointing out very clearly that, in Nikki Haley's perspective, there is still not unity within the Republican Party, saying that there are a large block of voters, Republican primary voters, who don't stand with Donald Trump, making it quite clear in that statement that Nikki Haley is not poised, at least at the time that they sent that statement out, to endorse the former president.

So we will watch to see her language surrounding that today as this makes it very clear that Donald Trump is now set to be the nominee of the Republican Party.

HUNT: Kylie, I know she didn't have an event last night around the events. Can you talk a little bit about kind of what the mood was among people you were talking to last night as they were trying to decide what to do moving forward?

And I am interested in this question, too, about what she decides to do about an endorsement, if you know, not now, perhaps later? What else do you know about any timeline on something like that?

ATWOOD: Well, listen, yesterday, we weren't hearing a lot from the campaign at all. And Kasie, you've covered campaigns for long enough to know that that's pretty telling.

Of course, there were no public remarks that Nikki Haley had scheduled. There weren't any campaign events that she had scheduled beyond Super Tuesday events that happened in Texas on Monday.

So it was clear that they were really focused in on the results last night to determine the future of her campaign. And obviously, as they tabulated everything that was coming in, it was clear enough to them that they felt that this was the moment for her to bow out, not to continue campaigning on.

Now, when you talk to campaign officials, they also said that there was a sense of jubilation among the campaign last night, that they were happy warriors, that they were feeling good.

I do think that Nikki Haley's campaign feels like she did what she set out to do, which of course, you know, not becoming the nominee is not ideal. She wanted to be the nominee of the party.

But she did set out to try and make the case that there is an alternative pathway forward for the Republican Party here. She truly believes that there are principles that the Republican Party should stand for, that Donald Trump does not stand for. And she made that case incredibly clearly throughout the entire course of her campaign.

Just last week, she was campaigning in more than ten states leading into Super Tuesday, even though they knew that the stakes were going to be incredibly high, that the odds were incredibly low that she was actually going to be able to clinch the nomination.

She was still out there campaigning, making sure that Americans who wanted an alternative to former President Trump had an option that they could choose in her. HUNT: All right. Kylie Atwood, thanks very much for your great

reporting, for being on top of it for us this morning. Really appreciate it.

Our panel is back with us. And David, let me just put this question to you. Is this the right call, for her to get out right now?

POLYANSKY: It is. Look, in presidential politics, there's nothing more difficult than talking to a candidate and ending a campaign under these conditions, but it's the right decision for her. It's the right decision for the party.

The bigger challenge, I think, has -- was alluded earlier, was what does she do in regards to Donald Trump? I would be surprised if she endorsed him today, but I believe between now and our convention in Milwaukee, she will.

She committed to the RNC to get on the debate stage that she would make that choice.

HUNT: Yes. Well, she kind of went back on that in an interview recently.

POLYANSKY: If you want to have a future in this party, fair or not, on the presidential level, she's going to have to get behind the nominee. And that's another calculus her and her team are going to have to make, maybe not today, but in the weeks ahead, for sure.

HUNT: So when we should hear?

KANNO-YOUNGS: She's already said thus far that -- that she couldn't bring herself to support the other leading candidate, right? That being President Biden.

This is somebody who worked for President Trump, too. Sometimes I feel like that gets lost, you know, a bit in this fast-paced election season. She is somebody who worked in his administration, as well. So that's immediately what I look towards.

But I think you're right. This is -- this becomes the immediate pressing question now.

But I mean, these -- somewhat one of the stories of the sort of Trump era is many Republicans coming out and criticizing him for various pivotal moments, you know, whether he -- when he was president or even post his presidency. And then quickly, they're making a trip to Mar-a- Lago, or coming out and, you know, once again, pledging support for him. So this immediately becomes the question now.

SELLER: Let me extinguish any burning notion that Nikki Haley will not endorse Donald Trump. I mean, that is -- that is just a fantasy world that a lot of pundits may live in, finding reasons to, you know, pretzel themselves to say, Nikki Haley will not do this.

[06:15:11] Look, she's going to do it. It's going to come at a moment where both of them can kind of stand on a stage together and say they were unifying the party, sometimes with --

HUNT: You think Trump would let her stand on the same stage as him?

POLYANSKY: Absolutely.

SELLERS: Absolutely. I mean, you can already see the cinema behind it. It's about unifying the party. It's a good day. It's a moment everybody is going to say, oh, my God, this is terrible for Democrats because Republicans are unifying.

I think the flip side of this is, this is no longer 1984 or '88 or '92, or whatever it is that Republicans nominate the No. 2 to be the standard-bearer going forward. Nikki Haley is not the -- is not the Republican Party No. 2.

She -- she -- she literally -- and I was just reading --

HUNT: I love that.

SELLERS: -- an article. That's right. We can read these newspapers. I mean, look, I was reading "The Washington Post." There's a great -- there's a great piece in here this morning by Robin Givens (ph) that says people aren't voting for Haley. They're voting for themselves.

Like this isn't --

POLYANSKY: Exactly right.

SELLERS: This isn't some, oh, my God, Nikki Haley is the next shining star. She's not going to be someone who is a bastion of anti-Trumpism, who stands for the age-old morality, and fiscal responsibility that was the Republican Party of a -- of a day gone by.

I just think she happened to be somebody for the moment that people could vote for themselves and not have to vote for Donald Trump in a primary.

DUNCAN: My encouragement --

SELLERS: You should read -- read the newspapers on your guests.

HUNT: That's the whole point of the newspapers. They're here to be read.

DUNCAN: For Nikki Haley not to endorse Donald Trump. I believe it's a mistake. I believe it's not moving forward for the party. And what will be a short-term sugar high -- and I just named a number of individuals. Kevin McCarthy, Tim Scott's moment where it's just cringeworthy at best. I mean, we've talked about it ad nauseam.

It's a mistake. And I believe there's a number of folks, this 35 percent of Republicans that didn't vote for Donald Trump in these -- in these primaries are going to be absolutely disappointed to think somebody would just want to preserve their political career and not do the right thing.

Look, if we're going to turn the tide as the Republican Party, and if we're going to turn the tide as a country, we've got to be more serious minded than just petty politics or short-term wins. We've got to go figure out a way to get real solutions on the table, right?

I mean, we should be focusing. We haven't even talked about the State of the Union. I mean, the whole country is going to be holding their breath, seeing if Joe Biden can even get through this speech. And here we are as Republicans just in-fighting.

It's -- I would encourage her not to. She's done a great job. She's worked hard. She's put a great message, and she's certainly achieved a number of goals along the way.

SELLERS: No. I mean, I just look at your former candidate, Ron DeSantis. I mean, what's the first thing he did? I think the quote was you'd rather eat that "S" sandwich now, you know?

And he did it, and it was lukewarm at best. I mean, he's still been a thorn in Donald Trump's side. The campaign is still holding it against Ron DeSantis, but he went ahead and did it.

Nikki Haley, if she's going to do anything, she's going to put her political career and self-interest first. She might have done something noble for the Republican Party during this campaign, but I believe its back to Nikki Haley of old.

HUNT: Yes.

DUNCAN: It's way too early for that sandwich analogy, by the way.

SELLERS: But look, I'm -- just I was thinking, you're right.

POLYANSKY: Well, look, I think -- I think the point here, and it's important to remember, with Republican primary voters, actual Republicans, even in New Hampshire, Donald Trump won them 75-25.

So what Nikki Haley's done is relied on a lot of crossover Democrats and independents, whether that was in Iowa, to a degree, certainly in New Hampshire. But we even saw it in South Carolina and a bit yesterday.

And so if she wants to have a future in the party, she has to play within the party parameters. And if she doesn't and wants to lead a movement outside of it, that's her prerogative, but it's going to be very lonely out there, both from a donor standpoint and certainly from an electoral one.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, I sort of see that, in some ways, she has boxed herself in. I mean, she's learned the power of, I mean, the grassroots fundraising that comes from opposing Donald Trump. She's clearly leaned into attacking him in ways that she certainly wasn't comfortable doing at the beginning.

I do think if you're going to argue, hey, this is my political center. I mean, she's got some serious just got a serious turn to make if she's going to endorse Trump.

Let's bring in Alayna Treene, who is with us here in our D.C. bureau. She covers Trump for us.

Alayna, good morning. Thanks so much for being here. What are you hearing from the Trump team as this news is breaking this morning that Nikki Haley is planning to exit the presidential race later on today?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can expect that they will be very happy with this news, Kasie. And this has really -- you know, and I reported some of this yesterday. This was their goal for Super Tuesday. They wanted to have very much a definitive win across the board, enough so to force Nikki Haley out of the race.

And that's exactly what we're seeing play out, with her remarks coming at 10 a.m. later today. And I will say, you know, for weeks now, Donald Trump and his team have been pivoting already to a general election strategy.

They really felt that Nikki Haley was standing in the way of making it official that he would be the nominee. But they had already been really turning their attention to November and to taking on Joe Biden.

But this will help them in a number of ways, having Donald Trump be declared the presumptive nominee. Of course, we have to see what will happen with the upcoming primaries. We knew that they were really hoping to be able to declare him the presumptive nominee next week with some of these other races that would really give him the necessary 1,215 delegates to make it so.

But the whole goal for them is to be able to do that as early as possible, which they now feel they will be able to do and really unite the Republican Party behind him. They want to be able to pull from not just the Republican hold-out voters that they are looking for, but also donors.

And the money part here is a huge deal. They want to be able to have the RNC officially be able to come behind Donald Trump, to use the infrastructure of the national Republican Party to boost him in a potential general election campaign.

HUNT: Alayna, can I ask you? We've been talking here at the table about how Haley would handle an endorsement of Trump, what her future might be in the party.

From the Trump perspective, I mean, there was no love lost between these two even kind of before this primary got underway. I mean, he's sort of private -- my understanding is having, you know, talks to people about it. Like he privately snubbed her around, you know, requests to have dinner with him and some other things that were, you know, not normally how Trump would necessarily -- basically this has signaled Trump was pretty unhappy with her.

How is he likely to interact with her going forward? Say if she was willing to endorse him or are we more likely to see him continue to attack her? TREENE: You know, it's interesting. I think -- and we can look kind of

at Ron DeSantis as part of this. You know, Donald Trump for the majority of last year, had railed against Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor. A lot of that was from personal animosity against him for believing he wasn't loyal.

And then once he came out and endorsed him, Donald Trump kind of laid off him. And actually, they were willing to embrace Ron DeSantis if he were to be a surrogate. Of course, that's a different case.

But it's actually a little bit different with Nikki Haley from my conversations with Trump's campaign, they believe that Nikki Haley has gone too far. We've reported this many times, that Donald Trump has been grumbling even long after his aides had told him to just focus on Joe Biden, he's been very frustrated with Nikki Haley for remaining in the race for as long as she did.

And has been very frustrated with her criticism of him. They feel that she's really gone very far, not only in that criticism, but also with some of her policy.

So I think it'll be harder for Donald Trump and his campaign to embrace her, if she were to endorse. Of course, that's a big question. If she would even do that after what she has been saying on the trail in the last several months.

So I think an interest of relationship between them will never be what it once was. I don't think, you know, there's going to be a wholehearted embrace of Nikki Haley, regardless of whether she endorses.

And the other part of this, too, I just want to bring up is that, you know, they really do not think that Nikki Haley is a part of the Trump Republican Party. And that's what a lot of this will come down to, I think, regardless of what she does with the potential endorsement.

They see her as, you know, being a different part of Republicanism, a different part of conservatism, someone that does not represent the Trump ideals. So I have a very hard time believing that they'll -- they'll find a strong place for her in the Trump world or in the Trump operation looking forward.

But, you know, we don't really know. There are times when Donald Trump has had a lot of critics in the past who have fiercely attacked him. And then later on embrace them for the sake of the party. As his advisers argue, they would rather fight Democrats than fight Republicans. But we'll see what happens.

HUNT: Indeed, we will. All right, Alayna Treene for us. Alayna, thank you very much.

I mean, so I think we should just take a beat, too, to just point out, you know, what Nikki Haley has accomplished in this race. I mean, she went farther than I think a lot of people expected her to, certainly when she first got in. It was driven by debate performances early on. And she did, for as much as, you know, people have been joking about

Vermont and the District of Columbia kind of already here. She is the first woman to win a Republican presidential primary contest.

KANNO-YOUNGS: But I think that's right. I think it was mentioned earlier that, even though you have Trump sort of talking about how the party is unified, clearly, there was some representation here of the frustration with the former president, what he represents.

And more broadly, just sort -- I think there's a lot -- I speak to a lot of voters, even on the Democratic side, that often talk about sort of the remainder (ph) of the status quo with these candidates, as well.

So I think there she represents some of that frustration, as well, when it comes to the age of these candidates and sort of a lack of satisfaction with them.

You're right, there was also the debate performances. I mean, going up against Ramaswamy, as well. And sort of some of those moments definitely benefited her.

And you also saw her lean on sort of some of the experience, both in state government, as well as foreign policy experience. But I mean clearly, Trump has grip on this party right now.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, I think my question just comes back to, Bakari, her voters, right? Like these people are showing up, even if many of them are independents, they are Democrats, right? In some of these, in some states they are. In others, it's a chunk of the Republican Party.


I mean, there is a sizable constituency in the United States right now that feels politically homeless, right? Conversations about third parties are more impactful this cycle than they've been in a really long time.

I mean, all of the polls show that people are really unhappy with their choices. I mean, where do those people go?

SELLERS: So first, the pushback on the frame of the question a little bit is a presumption that they have to go somewhere. And I don't think they'll --

HUNT: They'll just stay home?

SELLERS: I believe that is a huge risk that we'll see in this election. And that's a greater risk for the president of the United States than the former president. And that is what they're guarding against, this apathy that means that voters, particularly voters of color, will stay home.

I also push back on the presumption that there is a -- there is a Nikki Haley voter. I still don't believe that to be the case. I think that the third of -- the third of the people that you see, the overwhelming majority of those people who did not vote for Donald Trump are going to come home to the Republican Party. I mean, that is just the way politics is.

They -- the overwhelming majority are going to vote for Donald Trump in November. There are going to be some that do not.

And those individuals that we look at who voted uncommitted or who voted for -- Oh, what's the guy's name from Minnesota? I don't -- no, didn't he run for president on the Democratic side? What's his name? Come on. The race, in the other one

HUNT: Dean Phillips.

SELLERS: Dean Phillips. That one, sorry.

HUNT: Yes. Sorry, it took me a second to figure out who you were referencing.

SELLERS: That one. That one. And Dean Phillips. Those individuals who voted uncommitted, and for Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson, you know, the question is, they're not going to vote for Donald Trump. The question is, can Joe Biden get them to come out? I mean, that's the question.

HUNT: Geoff, what do you make of all this?

DUNCAN: The back of the napkin math right now, if we're all being honest, Democrats and Republicans, is there's 100 million people in America that are unhappy with their selection. Right?

If it's Joe Biden and Donald Trump, there's 100 million folks. And they're there for a number of reasons, right?

If you're a Republican and you're not with Donald Trump, it's because you don't believe the 2020 election was rigged. It's because you're disgusted by the personal behavior. You're disgusted by the lack of ethics and morals and values and the family.

How do I explain to my teenage kids how to act and grow up when somebody who's supposed to be the head of my party acts and does and says things -- the same things to do.

Democrats have their own list of issues. And I'm sure you would wish, if you can hit the reset button, you'd pick somebody younger than Joe Biden, somebody who was more polished and policy centered.

But the reality is that's where we're at. We have culture problems in our parties. And for -- if you're a company and you have a culture problem, you don't make micro-sized changes. You change the leader.

And to me, this is the tectonic shift. Nikki Haley proved that there's a culture problem inside the Republican Party. And it's exact -- the exact number is 35 percent. That creates the permanent math problem for Donald Trump in this coming election.

No matter how bad Joe Biden is, Donald Trump cannot beat him. KANNO-YOUNGS: This is what I think we're all kind of getting at, which is, did any support that Nikki Haley have represent sort of actual support for that candidate, or rather a discontent for the other two candidates?

HUNT: I mean, we asked that in exit polls.

POLYANSKY: And even when we started the cycle, really, we modeled. And it was almost equal across the board in thirds. There was a third of the primary electorate across the board that was always going to be not consider Trump. They were not going to vote for Donald Trump in a primary or caucuses cycle.

There was another third that was always going to support Trump. The real meat of the debate was the middle third, which was "consider Trump and others." They had voted, supported him in the past, but were open to another candidate. That's where we tried to get in on the DeSantis side and battle him. And it was really hard lane.

But as the Tim Scotts of the world and others started to drop out, Nikki grew in that "never consider Trump" universe.

So unfortunately for her, it wasn't a pro-Haley universe. It was just a universe of folks that, to the governor's point, were dissatisfied with Donald Trump, were not going to support him across the board. And she fit that model. That doesn't translate into the future very well, I don't think.

HUNT: David, what would you say to -- I mean, her argument here at the end on the campaign trail is that Donald Trump is a loser, and like, that's borne out in the data that we've seen: the 2020, the 2022 midterms. I mean, they're all sorts of -- two Georgia Senate races, right? That are now --

SELLERS: Thank you, Donald Trump.

HUNT: -- held by, you know, Democrats. Like there is obviously a head- to-head general election should match-up between Trump and Biden is a different question. And you can -- from Joe Biden's perspective, it's compare me to the alternative, not the almighty. I get that.

But I still don't see how the Republican Party ends up being -- the evidence contradicts the claim that the Republican Party can be a majority party in the U.S., with the circumstances being what they are right now.

POLYANSKY: Look, it's very the hard to make an argument that Donald Trump is a loser after a night like last night. And I --

HUNT: I don't think anyone's saying that he isn't a primary for sure, but the primary electorate is very different from the country.


But even if you look at the data from "The New York Times" polling this past weekend. I mean, 28 percent of Democrats are very enthusiastic about Joe Biden; 40 -- or 23 percent, 48 percent of Republicans are.

And so if you're talking about, you know, looking forward into November, Joe Biden's the one that has a real base problem right now.