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FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif attends a summit on climate resilience in Pakistan, months after deadly floods in the country, at the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, January 9, 2023.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Sharif’s return to power, Burkina Faso killings, Boeing’s big fine, Trump’s delegates

201:Shehbaz Sharifsecured 201 votes in Pakistan’s parliament to become prime minister after a bitterly contested election in which former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s supporters shocked the establishment, delivering the greatest vote share to independent candidates allied to Khan.

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley reacts as her daughter Rena and Rena's husband Joshua stand next to her, at her watch party during the South Carolina Republican presidential primary election in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. February 24, 2024.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Nikki Haley hangs tough

Despite being trounced by Donald Trump in her home state of South Carolina, former governor Nikki Haleyremains in the race to lead the GOP.

Positioning herself as a champion for traditional conservative principles, fiscal responsibility, and democracy, Haley said she would not quit “as a matter of principle”. In an impassioned press conference, she vowed to give Republican supporters "a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate,” and cited polls that show her doing better than Trump against Biden.

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A volunteer works at former U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign headquarters in Urbandale, Iowa U.S., January 13, 2024.

Trump wins by a landslide in Iowa

It only took the Associated Press 32 minutes to call the race for the former president. Blizzard conditions didn’t seem to hurt Donald Trump any more than his refusal to debate his opponents or a laundry list of legal troubles. Caucus workers in many precincts had packed up and gone home within an hour of opening as Trump easily cleared 51% of the vote.

The race to No. 2: Much closer was the contest between former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, though the latter managed to pull ahead with 21% of the vote to Haley’s 19%. Still, neither secured enough of an advantage to emerge as the clear alternative to Trump.

Vivek Ramaswamy finished a distant fourth, leading the long-shot candidate to hang up his campaign boots and endorse Trump.

Next up: New Hampshire’s primary is next Tuesday, Jan. 23. Haley is polling much more competitively in the Granite State … albeit with a 10 percentage point gap behind Trump.

This paints a rather grim picture of Haley’s best path to the White House, which seems to depend on Trump being rendered ineligible by a court ruling in one of his many ongoing cases. If polling is to be believed, even a conviction is unlikely to bother Republican voters much – as the majority are convinced Trump has done nothing wrong.

And the gate is even narrower for DeSantis, who staked his candidacy’s future on overperforming in Iowa. His polling numbers in New Hampshire and South Carolina have him closer to Ramaswamy than Haley — and miles behind Donald Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and fomrer US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listen to a question as they participate in the Republican presidential debate hosted by CNN at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Debate club vs. the rockstar in Iowa

To kick off the final debate before the first GOP primary, Chris Christie bowed out of the race – and he wasn’t exactly graceful. The former New Jersey governor was caught mocking his remaining Republican rivals, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, who took to the CNN stage last night.

The debate kicked off with the only question that matters if either candidate is going to be seen as a viable candidate after the Iowa primary: Why should Iowa voters see either of them as a better alternative to the front-runner, Trump? In response, DeSantis threw punches at Haley, while Haley cited her credentials, directed viewers to a website that fact-checks DeSantis, and cast herself as more electable than the former president.

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