Ron's Run & Haley's Prospects

Ryan Heshmati

January 26, 2024

New Hampshire saw yet another Trump victory with 54.3% of the vote, while Haley pulled a strong 43.2%. Ron DeSantis, who at one time looked like a serious contender against Former President Trump, suspended his campaign before New Hampshire’s primary, and in his withdrawal speech, attacked Nikki Haley. Haley faces serious challenges moving forward. Despite Trump’s major legal troubles, he still appears in command of the majority of the Republican party’s vote, making Haley’s prospects, should the former president not be ruled ineligible for office, dim.

Despite DeSantis’ pullout, his political future may still be bright. He is still the Republican who won Florida, a state that went for Barack Obama twice, by a nearly twenty percent margin. Further, Ronald Reagan, often hailed as the greatest Republican president in recent history by many within the party, launched failed presidential bids in both 1968 and 1976 before his success in 1980.

With regards to New Hampshire, Haley lost by double digits but her comment after Iowa that the race was only between two people certainly achieved validation with her strong showing, along with DeSantis’ withdrawal. Haley came out of New Hampshire making clear she does not believe the race is anywhere close to being over, and she celebrated a strong second-place showing with a speech to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters. That enthusiasm has not been universal amongst her supporters, though. NBC News reported on an Iowa poll that found “… just 9% of Haley’s backers say they’re extremely enthusiastic about her.” 

With Nikki Haley’s home state, South Carolina, coming up on February 24th, eyes will be on the former governor to bridge the gap in current polling. The Tyson Group conducted a recent poll in the state, which marked Haley at 31%, well below Trump’s 58%. It certainly does not help her that previous candidates seem to have fallen in line against her, with both Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy attending a campaign together for the former president, their former opponent. Trump pointed out that Haley was the governor who first appointed Scott to the Senate, adding, “You must really hate her.”

Haley represents a much more appealing general election candidate in terms of pulling more moderate voters into the GOP tent. CBS News reported on a January 10th YouGov poll that gave Haley a lead of 53% to 45% in a matchup against President Biden, compared with Trump’s 50% to 48% results. While she may not excite Republican supporters the same way as the former president, Haley’s stronger general election prospects should excite Republicans.