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Nikki Haley Surge All Part Of Ron DeSantis's Unconventional Third Place Victory Strategy
Just look at that worm squirm!
Nikki Haley continues to surge in the Republican primary race. She’s tied for second place in Iowa. She’s second place in New Hampshire! She’s even second place in South Carolina, a state where she was governor so presumably came in first a couple times.
Donald Trump is still running away with this election, as if he’s an incumbent and his opponents are the goofy reality TV stars. He’s ahead almost 30 points in Iowa, for instance, despite his 91 felony indictments. Axios notes that “41 percent of those polled said their mind is made up, and 63 percent of Trump supporters say they're locked in.”
Nonetheless, if the media insists on this being a two-person race, then the second person is more likely Haley and not Ron DeSantis. The stiletto heel-wearing Florida governor has actively deflated in the polls, and it’s just delicious to watch.
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DeSantis remains in denial, of course. He warned Neil Cavuto at Fox News, “I'm in it all the way, so you’re going to be seeing a lot of me.” Shudder. But Cavuto pressed DeSantis about his consistent polling slide, even using the word “sink,” conjuring the image of DeSantis as an itty-bitty plastic battleship that Haley has capsized.
“Even if you sink in the polls or others,” he said, “particularly Nikki Haley, emerge as stronger — “
“It’s not about the polls!” DeSantis shouted. No, sorry, but rejecting obvious polling data is a coping mechanism exclusive to Biden supporters. Democracy itself is at stake, and we’re all stressed. DeSantis is just a little weasel, so he’s allowed no respite from the harshness of math.
The two men talked over each other for a while, as men tend to do, but the gist of it was that Cavuto insisted that DeSantis must win Iowa, which is never gonna happen, and DeSantis stated definitively, like a delusional person, “We’re gonna win Iowa.” (Trump predictably stated this week that if anyone wins Iowa but him, it’s because of “cheating.” Just like he said when Ted Cruz won it in 2016.)
“Obviously you need to win a majority of the delegates. That’s the thing,” said the man who wants to be our
latex salesman commander in chief. “Even that poll in Iowa that you reference, it shows that I have the highest percentage of caucusgoers who are considering me, even higher than Donald Trump.”
Well, isn’t that just pathetic. There are fewer Iowa Republican voters “considering” Trump because most of them are already solidly supporting Trump. Haley is also beating DeSantis among a wide range of demographics, specifically “people who have met Ron DeSantis.”
In addition to her strong showing with independents, Haley leads both Trump and DeSantis with suburban poll respondents: 32% say Haley is their first pick for president. DeSantis is at 29%, and Trump is at 24%.
Haley also leads DeSantis among those with a college degree, 22%-16%; among men 65 or older, 23%-17%; white women with a college degree, 24%-15%; and women 44 or younger, 22%-13%.
This particular poll was devastating to the claim that DeSantis’s campaign had some momentum. Haley has entirely co-opted that narrative, and Trump’s team (campaign, not legal) believes that the race is over if they humiliate DeSantis in Iowa. Haley’s last-minute rise is advantageous as Trump can sit back and watch his two opponents beat up on each other in the final days before primary voting starts.
Haley and DeSantis have recently hit the other on their approaches to the Israel-Hamas war. DeSantis has rejected all refugees from Gaza, because the only thing big about him is his bigotry, but Haley has managed to sound more humane:
“They want to be free from all of that. And America has always been sympathetic to the fact that you can separate civilians from terrorists, and that’s what we have to do,” Haley said last month. "But right now, we can never take our eyes off of the terrorists.”
I’d worry about Haley if she could win the primary but fortunately, she’s only going to curb stomp DeSantis. Even her fundraising is moving in a better direction: She collected $5.3 million in the year’s second quarter and $8.3 million in the third. DeSantis might’ve raised more last quarter — $11.1 million — but that’s down from $20.1 million in the second.
Haley is also more fiscally responsible, perhaps because she spends less on flashy travel and ego-boosting heels than DeSantis. She has more to spend during the marathon to early-state voting. She ended September with $9.1 million in available funds while DeSantis had just $5 million.
Jeb Bush, the last Florida governor who faced off against Trump, dropped out after placing fourth in South Carolina. DeSantis might fizzle out well before that point. That almost makes me laugh like a weirdo.
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