Nikki Haley, Surging, Is Still Way Behind Trump

Haley trails Trump by more than 50 percentage points.

Nikki HaleyRobert F. Bukaty/AP

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Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is surging at just the right time—armed with tens of millions in donor money, she appears to be leaving Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and his New Right adherents, in the dust. With Iowa GOP voters caucusing for their choice in just eight days Haley’s run is well-timed. But it still leaves her shockingly far behind former president Donald Trump. 

According to the latest national polling averages, Haley trails Trump by more than 50 percentage points. In Iowa, the deficit is close to 35 percent. In New Hampshire, where it’s tightest, she is only behind by about 13 percent. Haley hopes she could hope to grab liberal voters to make up the gap in the Grantine State and has even joked New Hampshire will “correct” Iowa. But the difference is still double-digits.

Despite the unlikeness of pulling off a victory, Haley’s surge has still provoked Trump’s ire. The former president has begun complaining Haley “sold me out” by running for president. Trump’s campaign and his super-PAC have also spent millions attacking Haley in New Hampshire, portraying her as weak on immigration and a danger to the country.

Of the other candidates, Trump probably should worry the most about Haley. Money has coalesced around her. Haley just announced she raised $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2023—that’s more than twice what she raised in the third quarter—and the political network founded by the Koch brothers said it would start spending heavily on Haley as well.

Trump has, as usual, had a scattershot approach to his attacks on Haley. Some have been on foreign policy. The former South Carolina governor is much more hawkish on the United States’ role in wars, including the fight in Ukraine. This sounds like complex stuff. But Trump has made it rather simple, accusing Haley of being a globalist and moving on. “She likes the globe,” Trump said in a speech recently. “I like America first.”

Trump also attacked Haley on Friday for, of all things, giving a lengthy, meandering non-answer, when asked what caused the Civil War.


Unless something radically changes, this could be the peak of the Haley versus Trump fight. And it looks pretty tame.

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