Fake Nikki Haley Boomlet Continues
The media's favorite Republican is doing better in some polls than the other candidates losing to Trump.
CBS News released a new poll last evening under the headline “Haley gains on Trump in New Hampshire while he continues to dominate in Iowa.”
Donald Trump still leads in New Hampshire, but Nikki Haley has consolidated much of the non-Trump vote and has emerged as the top alternative to him there. Among the top candidates, Haley gets the best marks on being seen as “likable” and “reasonable,” and she runs nearly even with Trump on being “prepared” — notable, considering he held the presidency. She has been running in part on electability and is now seen as the most electable of Trump’s challengers.
Meanwhile, Trump has consolidated his already commanding lead in Iowa, where likely caucus-goers overwhelmingly see him as a “strong leader,” where his backers say he “represents Iowa values,” and where he is boosted by an electorate in which nearly half say they are part of the MAGA movement.
Haley has been given a boost by New Hampshire’s more moderate electorate relative to Iowa. She has made inroads among self-described moderates and independents, running close to Trump among them now. (Independents can, and often do, vote in the GOP primary.) And it’s these groups who express more openness, in principle, to a candidate dissimilar to Trump, if he isn’t the nominee.
Asked to compare the candidates to the frontrunner, voters see Haley as the most different candidate from Trump in terms of personality. And about seven in 10 say that if the nominee is not Trump, they would prefer a candidate different than him in terms of personality.
Which is all swell. Until you see the actual numbers:
So . . . Trump remains the prohibitive favorite in both races. If the other “normal Republicans” in the poll, Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, dropped out and all of their support transferred to Haley, she’d still be down four points in New Hampshire. And in distant third place in Iowa.
There remains no viable path to the nomination for Haley if Trump is in the race. And, even with Trump out of the race, we would presume the lion’s share of his supporters would shift to DeSantis and Ramaswamy, not Haley.
Indeed, the only really interesting thing here is the wild divergence in how the citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire rank the candidates. Presumably, the questions and polling methodology were the same. Yet, in Iowa, 84% prefer a MAGA candidate whereas only 60% do in New Hampshire.