How Long Will Nikki Haley Remain in the 2024 GOP race?

Although candidates would rarely admit otherwise, Nikki Haley is giving all appearances that she will remain in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination even if she loses her home state of South Carolina this Saturday.

Should that come to pass, the expectation is Haley would continue on through next week’s contests in Michigan, Idaho, and Missouri until at least Super Tuesday (March 5th).

But even if Haley lasts that long, it is possible she could still notch the record for the earliest exit of the ‘last remaining challenger’ for a major party presidential nomination in the modern primary era.

Since 1972, the earliest a presumptive presidential nominee has seen the last of his or her challengers exit the race was in 2000, when Bill Bradley suspended his campaign against Vice President Al Gore on March 9th – two days following Super Tuesday that cycle.

There has been at least one other non-frontrunning candidate still standing in April during every other major party nomination fight since 1972.

[It should be noted three other nomination battles saw the most competitive challenger bow out in March while lesser, though non-fringe, candidates remained in the race: John McCain in 2000 (exiting March 9th), John Edwards in 2004 (March 2nd), and Mike Huckabee in 2008 (March 4th).

Two ‘last standing’ challengers suspended their campaigns in April:

  • 1988 (Republican): Pat Robertson on April 6
  • 2020 (Democratic): Bernie Sanders on April 8

Three candidates did so in May:

  • 2016 (Republican): John Kasich on May 4 (Donald Trump’s main challenger Ted Cruz exited on May 3)
  • 2012 (Republican): Ron Paul on May 14 (Mitt Romney’s chief opponents Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich dropped out on April 10 and May 2 respectively)
  • 1980 (Republican): George H.W. Bush on May 26

Three candidates exited in June:

  • 1972 (Republican): John Ashbrook on June 7
  • 2008 (Democratic): Hillary Clinton on June 7
  • 2008 (Republican): Ron Paul on June 12

Candidates remained in the race until the party’s national convention in July during seven cycles:

  • 1972 (Democratic): Scoop Jackson, Terry Sanford, Shirley Chisholm, and George Wallace on July 13 (following Eugene McCarthy and Wilbur Mills on July 12 and Hubert Humphrey on July 11)
  • 1976 (Democratic): Jerry Brown and Ellen McCormack on July 15 (following Frank Church and Mo Udall on July 14)
  • 1992 (Democratic): Jerry Brown and Larry Agran on July 16
  • 1984 (Democratic): Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson on July 19
  • 1988 (Democratic): Jesse Jackson on July 21
  • 2004 (Democratic): Dennis Kucinich on July 22
  • 2000 (Republican): Alan Keyes on July 25
  • 2016 (Democratic): Bernie Sanders on July 26

Four cycles saw the final challenger withdraw at the party’s national convention in August:

  • 1980 (Democratic): Ted Kennedy on August 11
  • 1992 (Republican): Pat Buchanan on August 17
  • 1976 (Republican): Ronald Reagan on August 19
  • 1996 (Republican): Pat Buchanan on August 20

In the 2024 Democratic race, Minnesota U.S. Representative Dean Phillips remains President Joe Biden’s final (non-fringe) challenger, despite needing to lay off staff in recent days.

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  1. Geoff Gamble on February 21, 2024 at 11:11 am

    Newton Leroy Gingrich won fewer than three contests in 2012, if I am not mistaken. Despite his résumé, he should not be considered a major, let alone “chief”, opponent, with such an anemic on-the-trail result (unlike, say, 2008, the ’12 contest had been essentially binary, between Santorum the ‘land baron’ and future UT senator Romney; ditto with the Cruz-Trump ’16 contest).

    Though he might have cost Bush “43” IA, WI, and/or OR as the nominee of the Reform Party in 2000, at least “Pat” Buchanan (whatever happened to him?) did not debilitate the eventual R nominee that time by contesting the nomination right up to the national convention!

    If “Nikki” were short of moolah, she would already have exited – just as Maryanne Deborah Williamson would still be in the D nomination race if she had enough money to continue.

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