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Could Ambassador Haley actually win the Republican Primary?
Cole Kinder

Feb 01, 2024

Former Ambassador Haley's N.H. performance gives those against a 2020 rematch hope.

The rise of former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been a breadth of fresh air for the media and many anti-Trump Americans.


Americans are concerned about President Biden because they see his cognitive skills as unequipped for another four years of presidency. Additionally, Vice President Kamala Harris's lack of popularity worries Americans even more. Furthermore, President Biden is less popular than former President Trump right now, trailing him in many polls. 


Iowa confirmed what many experts thought: if there were many candidates in the Republican Primary, no one stood a chance against former President Trump because his base was a large plurality, resulting in everyone else stealing from each other's base. New Hampshire was the first chance to see how a Republican Primary would go with just two candidates as only Ambassador Haley and former President Trump remained.


It did not disappoint those who dislike former President Trump and those who want competitive primaries.


In New Hampshire, former President Trump won 13 delegates from 54.3% of the vote, while Ambassador Haley won 9 delegates from 43.3% of the vote. This primary now puts the overall delegates of former President Trump at 33 and Ambassador Haley at 17.


What does this mean for both candidates?


For the first time, former President Trump faces a Republican challenger.


With Ambassador Haley as the only challenger, we will see how Ambassador Haley fares among Democrats and Independents compared to former President Trump. If Ambassador Haley shows that she is stronger in these polls, many Republicans will likely switch their vote to Ambassador Haley strictly because she gives them a better chance to win the 2024 election against President Biden.


However, there is also a voter turnout issue which can work both ways.


Currently, former President Trump garnishes a large expected voter turnout. FormerPresident Trump's impressive 2020 vote count is often forgotten, and right now, President Biden's popularity does not appear to be as strong as in 2020. 


Meanwhile, Ambassador Haley does not seem to get anyone excited enough to have a large voter turnout, which could lead to a surprising loss or an underwhelming victory. On the flip side, she is less hated and therefore might win due to low voter turnout. A big reason President Biden won so many votes had more to do with people voting against Trump.


There is also the concern, especially among Republicans, that former President Trump may not even be eligible to run for president overall or in certain states, leading to a potential that Ambassador Haley is a better choice. 


Lastly, Ambassador Haley’s expected pivot to appeal more to Republicans could be very unpopular among Democrats and Independents, thus negating one of the key reasons Republicans would vote for her to begin with.


With all this information, how do we even predict a possibility?


The truth is that Trump is still the overwhelming favorite. Even so, the new uncertainty in the primaries has created a media buzz for Ambassador Haley.


Ambassador Haley is the only hope in preventing a 2020 rematch for many across the nation.


Ambassador Haley will likely improve her popularity as more people discover her background and the history she could achieve as the first Indian-American (South Asian) and woman to become President. For some, this makes her a woman of color, which would be another first.


Furthermore, she has lots of experience in politics at different levels, serving as a state governor and U.S. ambassador. This experience likely qualifies her for president in the eyes of most experts.


However, due to this experience, she has also been in the limelight longer, and so have her unpopular details. For example, she appears as an “establishment” figure and has often been supportive of warfare.


Nonetheless, Ambassador Haley’s performance in New Hampshire shows she has a better and truly realistic chance to win. Now it will be up to her team to figure out how to beat former President Trump. With the next primary/caucus not happening until February 6/8, and the next states/territories likely to favor her in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Michigan and South Carolina, while Nevada is up for debate with internal state politics having former President Trump absent from the primary ballot and Ambassador Haley absent from the caucus ballot, we very well could see a switch in the leader board thus favoring her even more.


So, the answer to the title of this op-ed is a resounding yes. 


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