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Nikki Haley Makes Strides in Iowa

The Hawkeye State sees Haley swoop in on DeSantis.

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Nikki Haley blew through Iowa on a ten-stop, five-day visit while the boys scuttled about in New Hampshire, drumming up the support of Granite State Republicans. Haley has declared she doesn’t care if she wins Iowa. She just wants to beat Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a couple of times, inch closer to Donald Trump, then head to her home state of South Carolina and clear the field. She does talk tough – but is she making any headway?

By Thursday, Haley had caught up to DeSantis according to the latest polls. As Emerson College reports: “Half (50%) of Republican caucus voters support former President Donald Trump, while 17% support Nikki Haley, and 15% support Ron DeSantis. Independents show a closer contest, with Trump at 43%, Haley at 25%, and DeSantis at 15%.”

Slow and steady on that win, place, or show strategy might be paying off after all.

Is it Strategery?

Most of Haley’s barbs seemed to come in response to questions from Iowa voters. One appeared to goad her into naming Trump a “grave danger to the country.” But Haley’s savvy, and her pivot was perfect: “The problem is, what I have faced is anti-Trumpers don’t think I hate him enough. Pro-Trumpers don’t think I love him enough.”

New banner Perpective 1But Haley also has a short list of grievances against number 45 that she played on repeat while trekking across Iowa: “When Israel fell to her knees, what did he do? He talked about an old vendetta with (Israel Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and praised Hezbollah,” Haley said. “He praised (Chinese President Xi Jinping) a dozen times after China gave the world COVID. He said Kim Jong Un is his friend. … We can’t have that.”

Governor DeSantis and Trump feel she may be getting too close and have upped the negative campaign ads against Haley. Seasoned political media operatives like a good soundbite they can manipulate, and in an ad from Make America Great Again, Inc, a pro-Trump super PAC, Haley is called out for reversing her position not to raise South Carolina’s gas tax back in 2015 when she was governor. The ad leaves out that the deal would only get her signature if the legislature cut state income taxes. It simply failed.

But Haley knows she is gaining voter attention in the first caucus state. “I’m getting it from all angles,” she said. “And I get it. That means we’re surging.”

Is There a Haley Factor?

Haley’s ten-point surge in Iowa since September has piqued CNN’s interest. In separate town hall events, she and DeSantis will appear at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 4. The network is also hosting another GOP primary debate in the state on January 10, where all remaining candidates will participate in the last-gasp effort before the critical vote.

That Trump will win Iowa is nearly a foregone conclusion – but in New Hampshire, things are getting close. The latest CBS YouGov poll showing that overall, Trump stands at 44%, Haley at 29%, and DeSantis languishing 18 points down at 11%. Another poll shows an even worse outlook for the Florida governor. According to a December survey by American Research Group Inc, Haley trails Trump by just 4%, coming in at 29% to his 33%. Chris Christie actually took third place in this poll at 13%, with DeSantis showing just 6%.

The new-found strength Haley found in New Hampshire comes from the moderate Republicans and conservative Independents. Haley and Trump both polled as “best prepared.” Haley pulls away from the former president in likeability and being “reasonable.” Trump, however, is miles ahead in regards to which candidate is the strongest leader and who could beat President Joe Biden in the general election.

All eyes are on Iowa for the next three weeks. And if Haley shows a strong second, it could prove an embarrassing loss for DeSanits, who was endorsed by the high rollers, movers, and shakers of the state – including Governor Kim Reynolds.

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