Nikki Haley is now in a dead heat with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, tied at 16 points each, according to a new poll sampling Republican caucusgoers’ support for first-choice presidential candidates in Iowa.
The study, commissioned in the final days of October by Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll, represents a ten percentage point spike for Haley among Iowans since the first poll was conducted in August. As the former South Carolina governor’s popularity has soared among conservative primary voters, DeSantis’ has waned, with the latter seeing a three percentage point drop during the same period.
“You just have [Haley] rising. You have DeSantis kind of holding on for second place,” J. Ann Selzer, a pollster who oversaw the recent survey, told the Des Moines Register. “But both of them are on ground that you could only describe as shaky compared to the solid ground that Donald Trump stands on.”
“If anything, he’s showing improvement.”
The findings were lauded by Haley’s camp. “Nikki Haley is now second in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Time to start talking about a two-person race, one man and one woman,” Ken Farnaso, her press secretary, told National Review on Monday.
Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump edged marginally up with a one percentage point boost — grabbing 43 percent of respondents’ first-choice ballots in the latest poll. “This is a good poll for Donald Trump,” Selzer told Axios. “For all the things that happened between the last poll and now, he’s still the dominant player in the field, and his standing has, in fact, improved from August.”
The remainder of the GOP field falls comfortably below the 10 percent threshold, including Senator Tim Scott (R., S.C.) at 7 percent, with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy both at 4 percent.
Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, bowed out of the Republican presidential contest on Saturday as the former Indiana governor struggled to gain a foothold in the crowded GOP midfield. “After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president,” Pence told the audience attending the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Let me promise you I will never leave the fight for conservative values, and I will never stop fighting to elect principled Republican leaders to every office in the land, so help me God.
“We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets,” Pence added. “The only thing that would have been harder than coming up short would have been if we’d never tried at all.
“I urge all my fellow Republicans here to give our country a Republican standard-bearer that will, as Lincoln said, appeal to the better angels of our nature, and not only lead us to victory but lead our nation with civility back to the time-honored principles that have always made America strong and prosperous and free.”