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Nikki Haley finally has a one-on-one matchup with Donald Trump in the Republican presidential nomination race, but the winnowing of the field has only grown the former president’s backing.
According to our Jan. 24 tracking of the race, 81% of potential Republican primary voters support Trump — up from 79% on Jan. 22, the day before his New Hampshire primary victory. It’s a record-high showing for Trump in surveys conducted daily dating back to December 2022.
Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Trump’s only remaining challenger for the party’s nomination, is supported by 18% of the party’s electorate, down slightly from the Monday survey conducted one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped his campaign and endorsed Trump.
The state of the race now lines up with what we expected based on DeSantis supporters’ stated preference for a backup candidate in Morning Consult surveys conducted over the weekend, when a DeSantis exit was expected to pad Trump’s first-choice support of 75% by as many as 6 percentage points.
Haley, who’s planning a fundraising blitz in the coming weeks, has vowed to stay in the race, at least until the Feb. 24 primary in her own South Carolina in what is seen as a last-ditch effort to galvanize an anti-Trump coalition in the party. However, other data suggests there is not much appetite for her homestretch messaging.
Very Few Potential Primary Voters Think Trump’s Too Old
Haley’s sharpest attack since New Hampshire – criticizing her 77-year-old rival’s age — is not falling on receptive ears: Just 13% of GOP primary voters said in a recent survey they “strongly agree” that Trump is too old, less than half of the 29% of potential Democratic primary voters who said the same of President Joe Biden.
What it means for 2024
With Trump’s apparently insurmountable lead over his lone remaining primary challenger, the former president and the current Oval Office holder look set to engage in the longest general election campaign for U.S. president in modern history.