Analysis: Nikki Haley has a plausible path to the Republican nomination

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We’ve entered the house stretch within the lead-up to the 2024 Republican presidential main. And whereas Donald Trump continues to guide every major survey of the race, Nikki Haley appears to have at the least some momentum to be his chief main rival.

However does Haley have an actual likelihood to win the nomination? Historical past reveals us she has a believable street map.

Let’s begin with the dangerous information for the previous South Carolina governor. She’s nonetheless polling at about 10% nationally, whereas Trump tops 60% in many surveys. Not solely is she 50 factors behind the previous president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in between them, polling at about 15%.

Nobody behind within the national polls by as a lot as Haley at this level within the main calendar has ever ended up profitable the nomination.

Main contests, although, aren’t nationwide affairs. They’re sequential contests, through which a state’s voting patterns could be affected by what occurred in states that voted earlier than it.

The early main contests on the Republican facet are Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Trump leads in all of them, however by lower than he does nationally.

A late October Des Moines Register poll had Trump at 43% to Haley and DeSantis every at 16% in Iowa. That’s a big lead. It’s not insurmountable.

Republican George H.W. Bush in 1980 and Democrat Dick Gephardt in 1988 have been down by at the least 20 factors at this level earlier than the caucuses. They each went on to win Iowa.

Haley, nevertheless, doesn’t must win Iowa to safe the GOP nomination. What she wants is a lift popping out of the Hawkeye State.

That’s what occurred to Democrat Gary Hart in 1984. He finished a distant second to Walter Mondale in Iowa, although he did higher than the pre-caucus polls had urged.

Certainly, history shows us that one of the best ways to foretell the New Hampshire main outcomes is to consider the pre-primary polling within the Granite State in addition to how a lot candidates outperform their polling in Iowa.

Hart’s overperformance in Iowa was a giant purpose he went to win the New Hampshire main in 1984. He’s one among two candidates since 1980 to beat a polling deficit of at the least 20 factors at this level within the marketing campaign and win the nation’s first main. (Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 is the opposite.)

If Haley is ready to achieve extra momentum over the subsequent month, she may theoretically repeat what Hart did. Take into account that about three-quarters of non-Trump supporters in Iowa have been undecided, based on the Des Moines Register survey, so there’s loads of room for Haley to work with.

It received’t be straightforward for her to repeat Hart’s achievement in New Hampshire, but it surely’s doable.

Like nearly in every single place else, Trump continues to guide Haley in Granite State polling. Although his edge, our latest CNN survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire discovered, was considerably smaller than it has been in different key states. Trump was up 42% to twenty% over Haley.

Moreover, solely 29% of non-Trump supporters say they’re locked into their vote in New Hampshire. This consists of 25% of supporters of third-place candidate Chris Christie, who scored 14% in our CNN ballot when main voters have been requested for his or her first selection.

Once you dig in on who the previous New Jersey governor’s voters say is their second selection, they overwhelmingly picked Haley (53%) over Trump (11%). With Christie polling beneath 5% nationally and in Iowa and in peril of not making this week’s GOP debate, who is aware of how his present supporters will likely be leaning by voting time.

After all, not one of the aforementioned candidates who overcame polling deficits of at the least 20 factors within the first two contests ended up profitable the nomination.

Hart, although, got here comparatively shut in 1984. He ended up ending just a few factors behind Mondale within the cumulative national primary vote, although he was trailing the previous vp by about 40 factors nationally at this level within the marketing campaign. He needed to overcome quite a few different candidates nationally as nicely – together with Jesse Jackson, John Glenn and George McGovern – which is greater than Haley must.

Haley has one extra benefit over Hart. The third contest on the GOP facet subsequent 12 months is South Carolina, the place Haley served as governor.

Trump’s up 48% to 19% on Haley in South Carolina, based on a November Winthrop University survey. Notably, his very favorable score amongst Republicans (52%) just isn’t too far forward of Haley’s (38%). That’s necessary as a result of this metric usually extremely correlates with main help.

It’s not troublesome to see how Haley may shut the hole in her house state. Whether or not she will be able to go additional and carry such momentum into different states is one other query. If she will be able to, then all bets are off.

The underside line is that there’s a pathway for Haley, although it’s an extended and difficult one. She might want to mount a number of comebacks. There’s a purpose nobody has efficiently traversed that pathway earlier than.

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