INDIAN AMERICAN Nikki Haley is steadily gaining momentum in the race for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, the Sunday Times reported.
Recent polls indicate that the former governor of South Carolina is now in a tight race with Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, for the second spot in the crucial state of Iowa.
This surge in popularity is attributed to her strong debate performances and an extensive series of local public meetings in early primary states, the report added.
In Haley’s hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina, where she enjoys substantial support, voters are contemplating the possibility of her challenging the former president, Donald Trump.
While Trump remains a formidable figure in the Republican party, Haley’s consistent polling ahead of DeSantis in states like New Hampshire is causing ripples of speculation about her potential as a contender for the nomination.
The upcoming South Carolina primary in late February holds particular significance for Haley, given that Senator Tim Scott’s withdrawal has cleared the path for her to make a substantial impact.
According to the report, the state is crucial for candidates to demonstrate momentum and convince voters and donors of their viability in the race.
Haley’s female supporters in Bamberg express admiration for her resilience in the face of both misogyny and Trump’s strong influence within the party. While Trump currently leads in South Carolina, Haley’s local roots and strategic positioning could provide her with an edge.
Despite the predominantly pro-Trump sentiment in Bamberg, some residents, like Jessica Frazier, view Haley as a refreshing change. Frazier notes that while Trump enjoys widespread support in the area, there is openness to the idea of a woman running for president, suggesting a potential shift in sentiment.
Political analysts, including Elaine Kamarck from the Brookings Institution, highlight Haley’s upward trend in the “invisible primary,” which tracks media mentions, fundraising, and support in crucial early states. This momentum coincides with DeSantis facing challenges, creating speculation about Haley emerging as a viable alternative to Trump.
Haley’s journey from her birth in rural South Carolina to becoming the first female and non-white governor of the state reflects a compelling narrative.
Born to Indian immigrant parents, she faced racism and cultural challenges but eventually achieved success both in business and politics. Her moderate stance on issues like abortion sets her apart from some rivals, including DeSantis, and contributes to her appeal among voters and donors.
As the rivalry between Haley and DeSantis intensifies, recent controversies, including a TV ad linking Haley to Hillary Clinton, underscore the competitive nature of the Republican primary.
Recognising the potential challenge posed by Haley, DeSantis has shifted his focus, launching attacks on the former UN ambassador. He labeled her a “liberal in disguise” and accused her of advocating to “censor free speech online.”
This comes in response to her recent Fox News interview where she called for a ban on anonymous social media posting.
The dynamics of the race could shift further as Trump, recognising Haley’s rising influence, takes steps to consolidate his support in South Carolina.
While the polls currently favour Trump in South Carolina, the evolving situation suggests that Haley’s strategic campaign and growing popularity may reshape the narrative of the Republican presidential race in the coming months.
The Palmetto State’s primary, combined with potential strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, could position Haley as a formidable contender against Trump.
In the most recent polls, Trump leads with 52 per cent, while Haley follows with 17 per cent and DeSantis with 12 per cent.