This Week In the Republican Primary 

Ryan Heshmati

January 12, 2024

Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie dropped out of the Republican primary this week, leaving the list of major candidates down to Mr. Ramaswamy, Ambassador Haley, Governor DeSantis, and Former President Trump. Of those candidates, all but Mr. Ramaswamy appeared live on nationally televised election coverage Wednesday, Trump on Fox News, overlapping with the DeSantis and Haley debate. Voting season kicks off with the Iowa Caucus on Monday, January 15th, and continues to June 4th, shortly before the Republican National Convention on July 15th-18th. But where does the race stand?

The Associated Press notes right before Christie bowed out of the race, he was overheard saying of Haley, “She’s going to get smoked.” Done by the University of New Hampshire, a recent CNN poll on New Hampshire’s likely Republican voters shows Haley performing with strength, however, holding 32%, compared with Trump’s 39% and DeSantis’ 5%. It is worth noting this poll was done before Christie dropped out, so his 12% is now up for the taking. The New Hampshire numbers contradict Christie’s words, but the national polls indicate dimmer prospects for Haley. ABC News 538 polling averages peg Trump at 60.4%, followed by DeSantis at 12.1% and Haley at 11.7% closely behind him.

This week, DeSantis and Haley squared off in a CNN debate, which received viewership significantly below that of Trump’s competing town hall event on Fox News, according to reporter Brian Flood of the conservative media giant. Haley and DeSantis exchanged attacks, with the former U.N. Ambassador calling the Florida governor a liar and plugging “” sixteen times throughout the debate, according to Julia Mueller of The Hill. DeSantis fired back at Haley, criticizing her for denying statements she had made, jabbing, “One good rule of thumb — if she says she’s never said something, that definitely means she’s said it.”

Up until January 12th, according to NPR’s Domenico Montanaro, Republicans have spent nearly $300 million on campaign advertising to convince voters in primary races. Despite Haley having spent the most, with DeSantis in second, Trump still leads the two among Republican voters. Even with the litany of legal troubles, civil and criminal, Former President Trump faces, and even with states like Colorado and Maine fighting to keep him off their ballots, the real estate billionaire appears undeterred. Should Haley and DeSantis consolidate campaigns, perhaps a unified anti-Trump bloc of voters could attract more support. If their debate performances are any indication of their opinions of each other, however, that may not be viable. As Republicans move from Iowa to New Hampshire and so on, whether or not Trump holds an effective enough hold on his party to obtain the nomination will become clearer.