Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has been up to her old two-faced tricks as a 2024 presidential candidate … but her self-serving, opportunistic vacillation appears to be hitting the right notes with a growing number of GOP primary voters.
Also, say what you will about Haley – and this news outlet has said plenty – but the fact remains she is simply outworking her rivals. And running a smarter campaign.
“It’s rather amazing, but the hard truth is that outside of Trump she’s the only other Republican actually running a real campaign for president,” our intrepid D.C. Operative noted last week. “She’s not going to win but she takes every opportunity, no matter how small, to boost herself. No grass grows under her heels.”
That’s true … and it is starting to pay dividends.
“The Nikki Haley way: Take every photo, shake every hand, and hug every voter until the very last one leaves,” a Xeet from her campaign noted. “Here on Team Haley, we fight for every inch.”
Two months ago, I noted Haley was gaining ground in her home state. Now, according to a new Monmouth University/ Washington Post poll (.pdf), she has opened up a statistically significant lead on the rest of the second-tier candidates in the race.
As has been the case from the beginning of the 2024 cycle, former U.S. president Donald Trump continues to dominate the Palmetto political landscape – with 46 percent of likely GOP primary voters supporting his third bid for the White House. Trump has been South Carolina’s candidate of choice since 2016 – when he handily defeated a Haley-led coalition rallying around U.S. senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
Trump is well ahead of Haley (18 percent) – but the former U.N. ambassador is starting to put some distance between herself and the Palmetto State’s junior U.S. senator, Tim Scott (10 percent), who was also part of the pro-Rubio coalition in 2016. Florida governor Ron DeSantis was backed by 9 percent of likely SCGOP primary voters, putting him in fourth place.
“Trump’s advantage in the poll results may actually be understated because his backers tend to be more engaged, and thus may have a higher likelihood of turning out, compared with other potential voters,” the Monmouth/ Post pollsters noted.
According to them, 87 percent of Trump voters indicated they were “absolutely certain” they were voting in the February 2024 primary compared to 69 percent of those who indicated they were backing other candidates. Similarly, 76 percent of Trump supporters described themselves as “extremely motivated” to cast their ballots compared to just 46 percent of those backing other candidates.
In other words, the “intensity gap” is back.
(Click to view)
What if Trump is convicted of a crime prior to the 2024 election, though?
“If Trump wins the GOP nomination and is then convicted of a crime arising out of the 2020 election, half of South Carolina Republican voters say the party should keep him on the ticket,” the pollsters found.
That includes 89 percent of Trump backers as well as 19 percent of those who support another candidate.
While Trump remains the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee, Haley continues to strengthen her position amongst the second-tier candidates – advancing in South Carolina, in early-voting Iowa and nationally (especially in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against U.S. president Joe Biden).
“I have taken a dim view of Haley over the years, but I have never – and would never – write her off,” I noted last summer.
Given my personal history with Haley, I’ve done my best not to unfairly criticize her since she announced her candidacy for the American presidency. In fact, I praised her earlier in the campaign for staking out some important ideological ground on the issue of entitlement spending – something both Trump and DeSantis have failed to do (although DeSantis tacked toward Haley on this important issue recently).
Count on this media outlet to continue objectively assessing her ascendancy on the national stage as we move closer to some critical dates on the GOP calendar.
Republicans’ primary process begins with the Iowa Caucus on January 15, 2024. New Hampshire’s primary comes eight days later (January 23, 2024) followed by Nevada (February 8, 2024) and South Carolina (February 24, 2024). As for Democrats, they are currently scheduled to kick off their primary process in the Palmetto State on February 3, 2024 followed by New Hampshire and Nevada (February 6, 2024), Georgia (February 13, 2024) and Michigan (February 27, 2024).
THE POLL …
(Via: Monmouth University)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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