Nikki Haley Is Getting a Brand-New Bundle of Donors

Nikki Haley’s dream scenario, a one-on-one matchup with Donald Trump, doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it once did. The former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the UN, who last week had a surge in funding and logged another strong debate performance, is polling in second place in Iowa and New Hampshire but still trails Trump by 31 points in the latter state. However, a roster of new establishment backers, plus Tim Scott’s surprise exit from the Republican primary, might be just the push she’s needed to quell the campaigns of her remaining non-Trump opponents.

Among her new supporters is Stanley Druckenmiller, a billionaire investor who was backing the Scott campaign but is now urging Republicans to rally around Haley. Another top Scott donor, Eric Levine, is organizing a top-dollar fundraiser for Haley next month, per Politico. She has also reportedly received the private approval of JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon. Axios wrote Tuesday that the two have had private talks and that Dimon believes Haley could potentially unite the country. Rounding out her list of newfound allies is billionaire hedge-funder and Republican megadonor Ken Griffin, who on Tuesday attempted to provoke Trump into debating Haley and announced he was “actively contemplating” financial support for the former governor.

The Haley campaign, meanwhile, plans to set aside $10 million for television, radio, and digital ads targeting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the respective sites of the first and second Republican primary contests. According to The New York Times, the spending blitz will begin the first week of December and mark the campaign’s first ad buy of the cycle. It comes after the campaign purported to have raised more than $1 million in the 24 hours that followed last week’s debate.

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Aside from consolidating donors and shrinking the debate stage, Scott’s departure from the race may not significantly boost support for the remaining 2024 contenders. When asked to name their second-choice candidate in an NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey conducted near the end of October, Scott supporters—who made up 7% of likely Republican caucusgoers—expressed nearly equal support for Haley, Ron DeSantis, and Trump.

Of course, for Haley to have any chance at actually challenging Trump, DeSantis would have to drop out of the race. The Florida governor has been the favorite Trump alternative among Republican voters nationally for nearly a year. But in Iowa, Haley is now tied with DeSantis at 16%. She leads him by double digits in New Hampshire and seven points in South Carolina. (DeSantis, likely in response to these polling deficits, has spent the week launching various barbs at Haley. On Tuesday, he said her sympathetic response to George Floyd protesters was emblematic of her “left-wing mindset.” And later that day, he accused her of putting conservatives at risk by calling for an end to social media anonymity.)

Trump leads both candidates by at least 27 points in all three states. The other remaining notable non-Trump candidates, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and biotech entrepreneur turned Trump acolyte Vivek Ramaswamy, are both polling at less than 5% in Iowa and less than 3% in South Carolina. In New Hampshire, Christie is polling at 9% and Ramaswamy at 5%. Should Christie drop out—a move some of his donors are reportedly suggesting he make—his share of supporters would likely go to Haley or DeSantis, given that Christie has run explicitly as the anti-Trump candidate.

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