Whit Ayres, November 14

Whit Ayres’ in CNN regarding Governor Nikki Haley and the Republican presidential primary:

“I think Haley is clearly the second-place candidate right now,” said veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Ayres has famously divided the GOP electorate into three camps: an always Trump group immovably bound to him; a never Trump group implacably hostile to him; and a maybe Trump group that supported him but is wearying of the chaos that surrounds him and is open to an alternative. DeSantis, Ayres argued, has “has tried to appeal to some of the ‘always Trump’ voters, but the ‘always Trump’ voters are always Trump for a reason. Nikki Haley seems to have figured out the job is to consolidate the ‘maybe Trump’ voters who supported Trump twice but now … want a different style and different temperament.”

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Jon McHenry, November 8

Jon McHenry spoke with NPR news about Governor Nikki Haley’s path to the Republican nomination:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry with North Star Opinion Research says if Haley can make a very strong showing in the early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and her home state of South Carolina, she could still have at least a theoretical – albeit narrow – path to the nomination.

“It’s not overly likely,” McHenry cautioned, “given the sort of the cult like following [Trump] seems to have among some primary voters.” 

“But I do think Gov. Haley has probably the best shot of the rest of the field,” he added. 

McHenry says Haley would need to continue standing out in the debates, and hope that more of her rivals drop out, like former Vice President Mike Pence did recently.

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Whit Ayres, October 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on Governor Nikki Haley’s standing in the Republican presidential nominating contest:

“It’s coming at a great time for her,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster. “Sometimes the direction of movement is as important as the absolute level of standing — and she’s going up, while the other candidates are either going down or remaining flat.”

Despite Trump still leading the rest of the field by as many as 50 points nationally and 30 points in the early states, Haley is now the main reason DeSantis can no longer declare the primary a “two-man race.” She has closed in on DeSantis, surpassing him in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and is slowly gaining on him in Iowa, despite the Florida governor barnstorming the state throughout the summer and investing significantly more there than Haley.

Since the first debate, Haley has caught fire with New Hampshire voters, rocketing from 3 percent in August to as high as 19 percent recently and solidly in second place.

“The rise is real,” Ayres said. “It reflects her debate performance in the first two debates, but also her performance on the stump.”

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