The 2024 Republican Primary: Examining the Haley vs. DeSantis Competition

With the 2024 primaries on the horizon, the Republican Party is facing a dilemma. While Nikki Haley’s poll numbers in the early states seem to justify her continued presence in the race, they also serve to help former President Donald Trump.[0] Despite some conservative pundits wish casting for Haley, it is clear that there is no path for her to beat Trump.[0] The only candidate who poses a challenge to Trump is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but Haley’s campaign is seen as another obstacle on his path.

DeSantis operatives and allies have acknowledged that Haley is currently experiencing a “moment” and is viewed as the main threat to his efforts to consolidate voters looking for an alternative to Trump.[1] However, they argue that Haley primarily appeals to a smaller, anti-Trump segment of the Republican electorate, and she cannot win enough voters from the pro-Trump majority to defeat him in a head-to-head competition.[1]

Despite this, there are signs on the campaign trail that Haley is becoming a critical factor in the race.[2] Not only are her supporters showing up in large numbers, but even her opponents are starting to pay attention. At recent town hall events in Iowa, Haley faced challenging questions about her record from attendees.[2]

Haley, the former United Nations Ambassador, appears to be gaining momentum as the top alternative to Trump in the 2024 GOP primary.[3] However, a closer look at the polls shows that her current surge is unlikely to lead to her winning the nomination.[0] DeSantis remains the only candidate positioned to challenge Trump effectively.

DeSantis consistently ranks ahead of Haley in national and early state polls, including Iowa. His team argues that he is best positioned to take on Trump in Iowa, where he has high favorables and a majority of potential caucus-goers are considering him.[4] Internal polling shared by the DeSantis campaign also suggests that if Haley were to drop out, her voters would scatter among the remaining candidates.[4] However, if DeSantis were to drop out, his supporters would not necessarily gravitate towards Haley.

The DeSantis theory is that he is the only candidate standing in the way of an even greater Trump victory.[5] This theory seems to hold true in Iowa, where DeSantis has strong support and where Trump is the second choice of a significant portion of DeSantis supporters.[5] Haley is the second choice of a smaller percentage of DeSantis supporters.[5] Therefore, if DeSantis were to exit the race, it is unlikely that Haley would benefit significantly.

While DeSantis remains ahead of Haley in most polls, it is worth noting that she has a favorable position in moderate states like New Hampshire and her home state of South Carolina. She is polling in second place in both states, ahead of DeSantis.[0] Additionally, she has gained traction in Iowa, surpassing DeSantis in recent surveys. However, DeSantis still holds stronger support in Iowa overall.[5]

Haley’s campaign argues that recent poll results in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina show her gaining momentum and moving ahead of DeSantis.[6] However, it is important to consider that DeSantis has consistently ranked as the top alternative to Trump in national and early state polls.[6]

The competition between DeSantis and Haley has become more heated in recent days.[6] DeSantis has accused Haley of inviting Palestinian refugees to the United States, a position she has not advocated for.[4] He has also dismissed her experience as US ambassador to the United Nations, calling it “worthless.” In response, Haley’s team has accused DeSantis of lying about her record and labeled his White House bid as “sputtering.”[4]

The attacks have focused on Haley’s past statements on refugees and her dealings with Chinese companies as governor of South Carolina.[1] DeSantis and his allies argue that Haley has been supportive of Chinese businesses and has failed to take sufficient action to protect her state from the threats posed by China.[3] Haley’s campaign has countered these claims, stating that DeSantis is lying about his efforts to recruit Chinese companies and orchestrating a cover-up to hide evidence of his actions.[7]

As the competition intensifies, both candidates are trying to position themselves as the stronger choice. DeSantis highlights his record in Florida, emphasizing that he has delivered on 100% of his promises. Haley, on the other hand, points out that she has never advocated for taking in Gazan refugees and accuses DeSantis of spreading lies about her.

Ultimately, the race for the Republican nomination in 2024 remains highly competitive. While Haley is gaining momentum and presenting a challenge to DeSantis, he still holds a stronger position in most polls. Only time will tell how the dynamics will shift as the primaries draw nearer.

0. “Nikki Haley doesn’t have a real path to win the nomination” Washington Examiner, 2 Nov. 2023,

1. “Haley and DeSantis escalate their battle to become Trump alternative” The Washington Post, 21 Oct. 2023,

2. “Nikki Haley’s breakout jolts the 2024 GOP undercard race – POLITICO” POLITICO, 29 Oct. 2023,

3. “Nikki Haley nabs fundraiser from GOP donor who previously supported DeSantis: Sources” ABC News, 17 Oct. 2023,

4. “DeSantis and Haley split over Palestinian refugees as rivalry to be top Trump alternative intensifies” CNN, 18 Oct. 2023,

5. “Opinion | Why Nikki Haley Might Become Donald Trump’s Biggest Rival” POLITICO, 2 Nov. 2023,

6. “Ron DeSantis says he is more electable than Trump, Haley in 2024” Iowa Capital Dispatch, 4 Nov. 2023,

7. “Florida Agency Scrubs China Mentions Amid DeSantis-Haley Feud. ‘Coverup’ or Coincidence?” The Messenger, 2 Nov. 2023,

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