Former South Carolina Gov. and UN ambassador Nikki Haley is beginning to pick up momentum.
A recent poll among Republicans in her home state saw her lead the best of the rest behind frontrunner Donald Trump who amassed support from 46% of respondents. Trump’s backing has amassed around half of the GOP electorate for some time, although he has often led Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rather than another candidate.
Haley has seen a steady increase in her numbers since a level-headed performance at an otherwise chaotic Republican debate in August. She currently averages around 6% – double that of her support a month ago.
However, a new Monmouth University-Washington Post poll released Thursday saw her secure the runner-up spot for the first time with 18% of the vote. Palmetto State Senator Tim Scott saw support from 10% of the 506 respondents, while Gov. DeSantis dropped into single figures. Interestingly, just one in five GOP primary voters believed having a candidate from their home state would make them more likely to support said candidate.
Trump’s Loyalists Are Very Loyal
One thing which continues to separate Trump from the rest is that his supporters are passionate about his views and are determined to see him regain the White House in 2024.
87% of Trump voters said they were “absolutely certain” they were going to vote in South Carolina’s February primary, compared to just 69% of other candidates’ supporters who said the same. Moreover, 76% of Trump supporters are “extremely motivated” to vote in the primaries, compared to 46% for the rest.
Trump voters are all-but unanimous (93%) in their belief that their candidate is best placed to take on President Joe Biden next year, a view shared by 20% of voters who do not intend to vote for the former president.
Trump voters felt overwhelmingly stronger on several controversial issues compared to fellow Republicans. 81% said they believed Biden won the 2020 election through fraud, a view shared by only 31% of non-Trump voters. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of Trump voters thought that “whites are losing out” compared to 38% elsewhere.
In addition, Trump voters felt more strongly on several issues than the rest of the party, including a ban on abortion (73%, compared to 44%), opposition to military aid for Ukraine (64%, compared to 42%), while almost half (47%) believed that government policies should support religious values.
Despite his strong support in South Carolina, where he is intending to hold a rally towards the end of the month, Trump is not viewed as the most favorable candidate within the state. That honor falls to Sen. Scott with 62% favorability, followed by Trump (60%), Haley (59%) and Gov. DeSantis (50%).
The Monmouth University-Washington Post Poll was conducted by telephone and online from September 6 to 11, 2023 with 506 potential Republican presidential primary voters in South Carolina. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points for this sample.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.