Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Could Haley Break Through?

In 2016, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Jeb! and others all had their moments in the sun. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) had his 15 minutes this year but is all but dead and gone now. People didn't want to hear about how he slew the woke Mouse barehanded. Could Nikki Haley be the next frontrunner among those who are not Donald Trump? All indications are that maybe now is her turn. The timing is good. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is a dead man walking. Chris Christie doesn't actually want the nomination; he just wants to annoy Donald Trump. Vivek Ramaswamy has enough money to stay in until the convention in July. His only problem is that nobody prefers a Trump imitator to the real thing. Maybe Haley could be the last man or woman standing besides The Donald.

Haley is a conundrum. She is a brown woman and child of immigrants in a party that does not particularly like brown people, women, or immigrants. But she is also an excellent campaigner, outstanding speaker, and aggressive debater. She also has as good a background on domestic affairs as any of the other challengers and a better one on foreign policy than anyone else. In addition, she comes off as the adult in the room.

Veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres said: "Sometimes the direction of movement is as important as the absolute level of standing—and she's going up, while the other candidates are either going down or remaining flat." Haley has already passed DeSantis in New Hampshire and South Carolina and is gaining on him in Iowa, despite DeSantis spending all his time there and Haley campaigning elsewhere. If Haley were to come in second in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, it would soon become a two-person race. If all the non-Trump Republicans were to coalesce in her camp, she might have at least a small shot at it. If she could actually win one of the early states, it would be a magnitude 10 earthquake.

Her sudden emergence as a serious candidate for "last person standing besides Donald Trump" has also increased the focus on her track record. People are asking why she tried to get Chinese companies to open factories in South Carolina while she was governor. They want to know where she stands on resettling refugees from the Middle East. Her position on abortion ("It can't get 60 votes in the Senate") isn't exactly the moral position the other Marjorie (Dannenfelser) wants.

And then there is the math. Haley is good at math. After all, she has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Clemson University and worked as CFO for her family's clothing business before being elected to the South Carolina House in 2004. Most Republican primaries are winner-take-all. The only way for a challenger to collect delegates will be to actually beat Trump in the primaries. In a three- or four- or five-way race, that simply won't happen. In a man-to-man or man-to-woman race, it is at least conceivable, especially if Trump's legal problems continue to grow. At this point, the non-Trumpy Republicans' only real hope is that all the other challengers either drop out or become irrelevant and all the Republicans who don't like Trump (for whatever reason) get behind Haley. (V)

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