Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is officially out of the running for the GOP presidential nomination. Now, the field has been whittled down to former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as we head into the New Hampshire primaries.
With DeSantis out, Haley will still have an uphill climb if she wants to defeat Trump. At this point, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Haley wins the nomination that does not involve the former president being convicted and jailed for one of the many politically motivated indictments against him. Even then, it is still possible that Trump might secure the nomination.
This brings up an important question: Now that DeSantis has dropped out, when will Haley follow suit?
I’m not normally in the business of making predictions, but I decided to dust off my crystal ball and peer into the future to see when Haley might make her exit. At this point, I do not believe she will drop out immediately after the New Hampshire primaries – especially if she makes a decent showing. Indeed, that is certainly possible given the current polling.
But there is a glimmer of hope, for Haley at least, in New Hampshire. In the Granite State, Trump’s lead is a more modest 10.6 points. Haley has steadily climbed in the polls over the last few months, from 4.2 percent on Aug. 1 to 35 percent today. DeSantis’s support has fallen over the same period, from 13.9 percent to 5.8 percent; Trump has steadily polled in the mid-to-low forties, currently sitting at 45.6 percent.
Also, according to the most recent RealClearPolling average, Haley is at 37.5 percent support to Trump’s 52.5 percent.
Trump is clearly leading Haley in New Hampshire’s polling, but it is not as wide a gap as it has been in the past. Still, Haley has a good shot at performing well in these contests.
However, in Haley’s home state, things aren’t looking quite so favorable. Another poll shows Trump defeating Haley by about 39 points in South Carolina.
By the numbers: The poll conducted by Tony Fabrizio — Trump’s chief pollster in 2016 and 2020, who is now working through the main Trump-aligned Super PAC — found Trump beating Haley by 39 points in the state where she was governor.
Fabrizio found Trump with 64% support in South Carolina, Haley with 25%, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 8%.
Fabrizio said 58% of Trump supporters will “definitely” vote for him while only 18% of Haley supporters say the same.
To add further insult to injury, the report also noted that the survey found that even in a scenario in which DeSantis dropped out, “more DeSantis voters went to Trump than Haley.”
This is why I am predicting that Nikki Haley will drop out of the race no later than the South Carolina primaries. While I do not expect her to suspend her campaign just after New Hampshire (unless the polls are wrong and she does much worse than expected), I could see her leaving the campaign trail shortly before or just after South Carolina’s numbers are counted. This would mean she stops running in the week beginning on February 18. South Carolina’s presidential primary occurs on the 24th.
Haley’s campaign for the nomination is essentially doomed even though she is Trump’s only competitor. Her message has not resonated with the base and her neocon-esque foreign policy is a no-go for the base. At this point, it is probably safe to say that former President Donald Trump is the de facto Republican nominee.