Yesterday, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley received a big endorsement in her bid for the American presidency. The support she is receiving from AFP Action – the political arm of Americans for Prosperity – is more than just an imprimatur.
It is money. Data. Grassroots engagement.
In an effort to gauge its full significance, we followed a group of AFP Action volunteers around downtown Columbia, S.C. – the epicenter of this coming February’s “First in the South” presidential primary. The group has been knocking on doors all week, but today their efforts shifted focus from issues-based advocacy to more direct pro-Haley appeals.
Be on the lookout for our report on this new ground game later this week …
While Haley is clearly benefiting from AFP’s backing, another of her high-level supporters is suddenly giving her headaches. Earlier this month, we reported on Haley receiving the support of top Wall Street banker Jamie Dimon – a 67-year-old billionaire from New York who has spent the past two decades at the head of America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase. According to Dimon, Haley is the only candidate who can save the U.S. economy.
Dimon – who has made no bones about his Democratic moorings and his disdain for former president Donald Trump – offered up a doozy during a conference in the Big Apple this week, telling “very liberal” Democratic voters they needed to support Haley’s candidacy.
“If you’re a very liberal Democrat, I urge you to help Nikki Haley, too,” Dimon told attendees at the conference, according to Sam Sutton of Politico. “Give them a choice on the Republican side that might be better than Trump.”
What will GOP primary voters think of such an overture?
As we noted yesterday, Haley is clearly emerging as the #NeverTrump Republican candidate – moving into a statistical tie with Florida governor Ron DeSantis in early-voting Iowa and eclipsing him in early-voting New Hampshire and her home state of South Carolina.
Haley’s current polling position in these key GOP primary states has her primed to continue surging past her remaining Republican rivals – assuming she is able to avoid any more unforced errors.
The problem? All the momentum in the world is unlikely to help her catch Trump, who enjoys massive – some say insurmountable – leads in all of the aforementioned states (including Haley’s home state of South Carolina).
Can Trump be beaten in any of these early states? Given the extent to which the two-time nominee is a known, defined commodity among the GOP electorate – it seems unlikely (especially if Haley remains one of seven active Republican candidates chasing him).
“His ceiling is his floor and his floor is his ceiling,” one Haley strategist told me. “We just don’t know what that number is yet.”
And we won’t know until the winnowing field winnows further …
Speaking of that field, Haley must continue contending with conservative flamethrower Vivek Ramaswamy – who has proven adept at calling her out for her increasingly dangerous (and self-serving) warmongering. And while DeSantis is certainly down, it’s important to remember he is not yet out.
The longer both of these candidates remain in the race, the harder it gets for Haley to cobble together the coalitions she will need to remain a credible challenger to Trump (to the extent she is one now).
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 children.
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