Now that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has finally figured out what every serious political observer knew from day 1 (but was afraid to say out loud), namely that his presidential quest was totally pointless, how go his donors? Basically, there are only three serious candidates for the GOP nomination left: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). The rest are wasting everyone's time. Donors who like Trump wouldn't have signed up to back Scott in the first place. A sort of ranked-choice donation schedule of (1) Scott and (2) Trump makes no sense. Anyone who backed Scott clearly doesn't like Trump, so where do they go now?
There is some evidence that they are staying with candidates from South Carolina and moving on to Haley. She has parlayed her strong debate performances into momentum, including a New Hampshire poll putting her in second place with 18%. Donors, who naturally want to back the winner, are seeing that and she is beginning to vacuum up Scott's orphaned donors.
Eric Levine, a former Scott donor, is co-hosting a New York fundraiser where he expects to net at least $100,000 for Haley. He said: "She has serious momentum and folks genuinely believe she can beat Trump and easily win the general against Biden." The other co-hosts, including Terry Kassel, who heads HR at billionaire Paul Singer's hedge-fund firm, also have ties to Singer. Singer himself hasn't said what he will do, but his associates are clearly vetting Haley for him.
In Iowa, David Oman, a former co-chair of the state Republican Party, has assembled a group of 70 activists and donors who are planning to support Haley now. Chad Walldorf, the co-founder of Sticky Fingers restaurants, is also jumping from Scott to Haley. He says he is impressed with her views on Israel and Ukraine.
Billionaire Citadel CEO Ken Griffin is slightly different. He was a DeSantis supporter who gave him $10 million to run for governor. Now he is saying that he is about to join Team Haley.
The new money allows Haley to run ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, but they actually aren't that important. In those states, retail politicking is what does the job. That said, the news stories of Scott (and DeSantis) donors settling on her give her that enormously important quality: momentum. When there are news stories all over the place about this big donor and that big donor signing up to help Haley, it makes it look like she will be the last person standing among the Trump challengers, and that is worth more in the early states than gold. (V)