2024

Nikki Haley’s New Hampshire Surge Draws Fire From Donald Trump

Both candidates on the defensive …

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Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is surging in New Hampshire. Like her, don’t like her … it’s a fact. According to a recent CBS News/ YouGov survey, Haley is backed by 29 percent of likely GOP Granite State voters – putting her within fifteen percentage points of former U.S. president Donald Trump, who currently leads the field with the support of 44 percent of the Republican electorate, according to the survey.

That is definitional “striking distance,” folks… and we are still five weeks out.

The CBS/ YouGov poll surveyed 855 registered voters in New Hampshire – of whom 46 percent said they were “definitely” voting in the state’s “First in the Nation” primary on January 23, 2024 (along with 12 percent who were “probably” voting in the upcoming election). The polling was conducted between December 8-15, 2023 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

A separate poll (.pdf) from The Trafalgar Group conducted between December 9-11, 2023 drew responses from 1,098 likely GOP presidential primary voters in New Hampshire. That survey showed Haley drawing 18.1 percent of the Granite State vote compared to Trump’s 45.1 percent – a much wider gap of 27 percentage points.

The margin of error for the Trafalgar poll was also much lower – 2.9 percentage points.

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The two polls raise an interesting question: Can Haley catch Trump in New Hampshire?

The former president clearly isn’t taking any chances. His Make America Great Again political action committee launched a new ad this week assailing Haley for her 2015 flip-flop on South Carolina’s gas tax hike.

“High-tax Haley broke her promise,” the ad claimed.

Ironically, the gas tax hike championed by Haley was successfully blocked by state senator Tom Davis – who has since endorsed her presidential bid. In other words, Haley has cover on this issue from the politician who saved her bacon (Davis’ filibuster of the gas tax was finally broken in 2017 when Henry McMaster, a Trump acolyte, took over as governor of South Carolina).

Anyway, here is the Trump ad against Haley …

(Click to View)

(Maga Inc./ YouTube)

Is the Trump spot accurate?

Yes … as this media outlet reported at the time, Haley flip-flopped on her position against raising the gas tax on multiple occasions. While it is true she originally embraced a gas tax/ income tax swap, that proposal got less and less taxpayer-neutral as the debate wore on.

Eventually, Haley abandoned her insistence on offsetting tax relief altogether.

Luckily for the former governor, left-of-center media outlets like The Washington Post quickly rushed to her defense – insisting the MAGA ad was “based on a misleading claim.”

“Haley opposed a stand-alone gas tax increase as governor,” the paper noted.

Really? State lawmakers who fought against that tax hike know better …

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RELATED | NIKKI HALEY NOW SUPPORTS A GAS TAX HIKE

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As for Haley, she’s smartly staying out of that fight and focusing instead on the fact that Trump has suddenly found himself on the defensive.

“Two days ago, Donald Trump denied our surge in New Hampshire existed,” Haley wrote on X in response to the ad. “Now, he’s running a negative ad against me. Someone’s getting nervous.”

As a candidate for president, Haley has vowed to “completely eliminate the federal gas and diesel tax,” a move which would save motorists 18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.

“That will help families struggling with record high gas prices,” she said in a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire three months ago.

Assuming she kept her word this go-round …

By contrast, Trump floated raising federal gas and diesel taxes by 25 cents per gallon during his first term as part of a comprehensive infrastructure overhaul. His tax hike proposal prompted a sharp rebuke from this media outlet.

“This is a regressive tax – especially in dirt poor states like South Carolina,” I noted at the time, adding “a federal gas tax hike would be a double-whammy for Palmetto State residents” already dealing with the rising state tax.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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2 comments

Nanker Phelge December 20, 2023 at 12:07 pm

It’s sad the amount of effort going into making Nikki seem like she has a chance.

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VERITAS Top fan December 26, 2023 at 11:28 am

Was this really meant to be a Todd Rutherford photo op? Askin’ for a friend.

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