Haley is not backing down.
In her pursuit of the Republican nomination, Nikki Haley, the former U.N. Ambassador, strategically positions herself as a candidate with broader electability compared to former President Trump. This narrative is pivotal to her outreach to GOP voters and independents in the critical New Hampshire primary. Winning in the Granite State is indispensable for Haley’s aspirations to challenge Trump in the primary, and she asserts that she offers a more certain victory in the general election.
Drawing attention to recent polls, Haley underscores her advantage over Trump in a CBS News/YouGov poll, where she leads Biden by 8 points, in contrast to Trump’s 1-point lead. She references a Wall Street Journal poll indicating her 17-point lead over Biden in a hypothetical match-up, while Trump leads by only 4 points. This data forms the basis of her argument that a Trump-Biden rematch would be uncertain, whereas she claims a decisive victory against Biden.
Republican strategist Matthew Bartlett observes that Haley’s allusions to her lead in polls receive enthusiastic support from her audiences, resonating with the Republican base’s desire for a winning candidate. Despite securing a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Haley contends that the race effectively narrows down to a two-person primary between her and Trump in New Hampshire.
Haley’s emphasis on electability becomes crucial in a state where around 40% of voters are unaffiliated, granting them the flexibility to participate in either party’s primary. While polls indicate Trump’s lead among GOP primary voters, Haley positions herself as appealing to independents, recognizing their significance in the primary process.
As the race progresses, uncertainties arise regarding the effectiveness of the electability argument in the long run. Some strategists argue that it may have limitations in expanding Haley’s base and stress the importance of winning on substantive issues. Additionally, Haley incorporates the age factor, highlighting concerns about both Biden and Trump being in their 80s, presenting herself as a candidate who would be at the “top of their game.”
The upcoming New Hampshire primary is pivotal for Haley, and success there is seen as critical for building momentum, especially as the race transitions to more challenging environments in other states. Despite the emphasis on electability, the effectiveness of this argument remains uncertain, and observers stress the importance of Haley presenting a compelling case to both the MAGA base and independent voters. With a Trump victory in both Iowa and New Hampshire potentially solidifying his nomination, there is added pressure on Haley to secure positive results and strengthen her position in the race.