Nikki Haley firmly in second among early primary voters, still far behind Trump

Following some high level endorsements and with the weight of early-primary-state polls behind her, Nikki Haley’s campaign has declared the Republican race a two-person contest.

Former President Donald Trump is still the dominant force in conservative politics and it shows in national polling, where he continuously demonstrates majority support among Republican voters. Haley, however, has been steadily gaining ground on her ex-boss where others are flagging.

“With Nikki Haley in second place in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the presidential race is now a two-person race between one man and one woman,” her campaign said Tuesday morning.

In most national surveys, Trump leads the full field of Republicans by 46 points while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis still holds second place. Haley has occasionally tied the Sunshine State’s governor in those polls, but averages under 9% to DeSantis’ about 12.5%.

However when you boil it down to the states which will first hold their primaries — and where the majority of media attention will shift for a few short weeks — voters pick the former South Carolina Governor over DeSantis, if still not as often as Trump.

In Iowa, where the first caucusing will occur, Trump’s polling average stands at just 48% — less than a majority — with Haley in second at 17.3% and DeSantis at 11.5%. That’s an improvement for both Trump and Haley since the start of summer, when she polled just over 5% and he just over 40%, but a huge loss for DeSantis, who is down from 28%.

New Hampshire will hold the first official Republican Primary and Trump’s polling majority again slips away when surveys are limited to just Granite Staters. Voters in New Hampshire, on average, would choose him 46.5% of the time to Haley’s almost 15%. DeSantis polls under 11% in New Hampshire, losing half his support since the summer.

Haley has been endorsed by former New Hampshire Governor and U.S. Senator Judd Gregg.

South Carolina, which Democrats tried to push to the front of the primary schedule, will hold their primary after New Hampshire. Trump has a near majority of support among Republicans in the Palmetto State, polling at an average of 49%. Haley, who spent six years as the state’s governor, polls behind him at just under 19%. DeSantis again draws less than 11%, down from about 20% to start the summer.

DeSantis said the cause of his decline is spending on the part of other candidates.

“Donald Trump is spending a million dollars attacking me in Iowa. Haley’s Super PAC is spending big money to attack me in Iowa. You don’t do that unless you view me as the threat, so I think it’s fine,” he said during a recent radio interview.

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