Home Politics Can Nikki Haley Beat Donald Trump to the Republican Presidential Nomination?

Can Nikki Haley Beat Donald Trump to the Republican Presidential Nomination?

by Scott Kacsmar
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Trump Haley

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley continues to gain support slowly but steadily as she seeks the bid from her party this year to run in November and become the first female president in United States history.

The GOP has of course become the party of Donald Trump, and that is the challenge that faces Haley and the other candidates still in the race, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

But with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary in January, we will start to see just how much of a chance she has to unseat Trump. Haley has her eyes set on February 24 when her hometown state of South Carolina will hold its primary. If Haley cannot win her home state over Trump, then the bid at most political betting sites may be in the book going into March.

Can Haley really pull this off?

What Is Nikki Haley’s Value in This Race?

Simply put, Nikki Haley’s place in this race is to be the candidate who will uphold conservative and Republican values while not bringing a new cult of personality to the party that has been taken over by Trump’s rabid MAGA base.

That means a president who won’t threaten missile strikes on North Korea at 3:00 a.m. from a social media account. Someone who won’t cozy up and idolize dictators like Vladimir Putin. Something more normal like Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

While that’s still not going to attract Democratic voters, that only matters if Haley wins the bid and makes it to November. For now, her only goal is to do well in the Republican primaries as the Trump alternative, which is very important to the voters who are tired of the antics that led to multiple impeachments and indictments, the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, and for the people who are just over Trump.

Haley also brings some advantages over her other challengers such as Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. In many ways, DeSantis is a younger and smarter version of Trump, but while he has excelled at getting voter turnout in Florida, it is unclear how well he’ll be received in northern battleground states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Someone like Ramaswamy is lucky if he can get 5% in the polls, and his youth and inexperience in politics as a 38-year-old entrepreneur will be a turn-off to many voters. At least no one can deny Haley, who turns 52 this month, has qualifications as the former Governor of South Carolina and the 29th ambassador to the United Nations.

Also, Haley does have more credibility as a woman to speak on sensitive topics such as abortion, which has become a huge part of elections since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. Haley is less extreme in her views of abortion than DeSantis and Ramaswamy are.

Women, especially Republican women, do not necessarily care to vote for a president just because she is a woman too. But with Haley being the only woman in the field, it can’t hurt to have that on her side as she looks to attract independents as well as the people who just want to move on from Trump in 2024.

What Does the Data Say About Haley’s Chances?

With the way Donald Trump has increased his public attacks on Haley, you can tell he is identifying her as the main competitor right now. She has in fact moved past DeSantis, who has lost the steam he had months ago in this race.

At BetOnline, Haley (+600) has the 3rd-highest odds to win the 2024 election, trailing only Trump (+120) and President Joe Biden (+200) (visit our BetOnline Review to learn more).

That is pretty impressive, but the other odds and data are not so sunny for Haley as we get closer to the primaries, since BetOnline also shows these for the Republican nomination:

  • Trump at -600 to win.
  • Haley at a steady +400.
  • DeSantis well behind at +1400.

At least in a betting market without Trump on the ballot, Haley is the favorite with -375 odds, beating DeSantis (+285) and Ramaswamy (+1400). But Trump is likely going to be on these ballots.

Haley is no doubt making progress. At FiveThirtyEight, she was hovering around just 2.5% in the polls this time a year ago to start 2023.

By July, she was only up to 4%.

But as of January 5, 2024, Haley is up to 11.2% in the polls. She still trails Trump (61.8%) and DeSantis (12.1%) in this metric, but she has consistently been gaining ground on DeSantis and should emerge as the No. 1 challenger to Trump on the Republican side.

But we are still talking about a major longshot here. According to Election Betting Odds, Trump still has a 77.0% chance of winning the GOP nomination, beating out Haley (13.8%) and DeSantis (4.1%).

Republican candidates poll January 01 2024

Is There Any Realistic Way Haley Replaces Trump in 2024?

Should this become a 1-on-1 race between Haley and Trump, it still looks to be heavily in favor of the former president winning the Republican nomination over her.

That is why Haley is going to need Trump to somehow be removed from the race, which does not look likely this year.

The Supreme Court will more than likely rule in Trump’s favor to allow his name on the ballots in Colorado and all other states. The indictments he is facing are unlikely to be resolved before the November election, so any consequences he faces legally are not going to come in time.

Trump is going on 78 years old, and you never know when that last chicken wing washed down with Diet Coke will be his last. But counting on him to pass away this year is not a viable strategy either for these Republicans. Waiting for the next Trump scandal to drop also has never proved eventful as “Teflon Don” is seemingly immune to consequences.

Does Haley Bend the Knee to Trump in the End?

Beating Trump is going to take all the help Haley can get. Perhaps she needs to team up with someone who could sway voters away from Trump and move onto a new chapter in the Republican party.

In a recent interview, Haley was open to the idea of DeSantis as her running mate for vice president. That could draw some voters her way, but DeSantis is ambitious enough and critical of Haley to the point where he would likely not accept that position and would rather strike out on his own.

In fact, DeSantis has fired back that Haley is putting herself in a position to be Trump’s VP pick, and that actually could be the most realistic way she replaces Trump as the leader of the party.

It would also be a smart move, politically, for Trump to endorse Haley as his vice president. We know Mike Pence is not coming back. Haley would help with the female vote and maybe some of the independent and youth vote. It could even soften Trump’s image a bit.

But Haley has a tricky history with Trump. She endorsed Marco Rubio and then Ted Cruz instead of Trump in 2016. Regardless, Trump still nominated Haley to be the ambassador to the United Nations, a job she held through 2018.

Trump has accused Haley of breaking a promise to him that she’d never run against him for the nomination. And yet here we are.

Despite her criticisms of Trump, Haley has been on record in 2023 as saying she will still endorse him for president if he secures the party’s nomination. A career politician, she is not above selling herself out morally for power. If Trump offered her the vice presidency, she would likely take it.

Then someone can start taste-testing the buckets of KFC and McDonald’s bags as Haley waits her turn behind Trump, who would be 82 when the next election is held in 2028. With the way the 2 parties have run out of ideas in nominating presidential candidates, being someone’s vice president is one of the best jobs to have these days.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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