Nikki Haley emerges as Trump’s top GOP rival in new poll

A pair of strong debate showings appear to have paid off for Ms Haley

Graig Graziosi
Friday 06 October 2023 13:55 EDT
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Related video: Haley tells Ramaswamy: ‘Every time I hear you I feel a little bit dumber’

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s bid for the Republican nomination just got a little more real – she's beating Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the polls for the first time.

Mr DeSantis and Donald Trump have been the only two names to pull significant numbers in polling since the Republican presidential primary began. While Mr Trump commands a significant lead over Mr DeSantis, the Florida governor was still the clear favorite among candidates who sought to challenge the former president.

For a short time, the party seemed to be warming to anti-woke businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, but polling has cooled, and likely due in no small part to the lashing he received at the hands of Ms Haley.

A Suffolk University/Boston Globe/USA Today survey released on Wednesday shows Ms Haley beating Mr DeSantis, 19 per cent to 10 per cent. The voters in that poll were all from New Hampshire, where the first primary of election season sets the stage for the rest of the year and can provide a significant national boost to whichever candidate comes out on top.

Mr DeSantis was the favoured candidate to challenge Mr Trump, but his popularity has waned as the primary season continues. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll from the end of August showed an 11 per cent drop in Mr DeSantis' support — from 23 per cent to 12 per cent.

Back in January Mr DeSantis was actually beating Mr Trump in New Hampshire polls.

But after two debates and numerous odd campaign appearances, it appears his support shrinking, according to Politico.

Regardless, Mr DeSantis's decline and Ms Haley's ascendance are both eclipsed by Mr Trump's dominance.

Even facing numerous major legal battles in which he is accused of fraud, violating the Espionage Act, and inciting an attempt to thwart the democratic process of the US, Mr Trump is still far and away the favorite among Republicans.

While Ms Haley and Mr DeSantis are polling at 19 and 10 per cent, respectively, in New Hampshire, Mr Trump is polling at 49 per cent.

The former president took notice of Ms Haley’s recent success. He called the former ambassador a “birdbrain” on his Truth Social platform. Shortly after, Ms Haley shared a photo on X/Twitter of a birdcage and a bag of birdseed that had been left outside her door, with a tag claiming it was from the Trump campaign.

“After a day of campaigning, this is the message waiting for me outside my hotel room…” she wrote, along with #PrettyPatheticTryAgain.

The rest of the field are wading around in the single-digit world; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie polled at 6 per cent, while Mr Ramaswamy and Senator Tim Scott both polled at about 4 per cent each. Former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum only managed to poll at 1 per cent.

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