Republican Party officials are hoping to attract women back into the party after Indian American presidential hopeful Nikki Haleyâ€™s strong performance at the partyâ€™s first primary debate, according to a media report.
The only woman running for the Republican nomination, Haley took down fellow Indian American Vivek Ramaswamy on foreign policy and dismissed former Vice President Mike Penceâ€™s call for an abortion ban at the federal level, The Hill noted.
She also appeared to take aim at whether former President Donald Trump could beat President Joe Biden and called him out for adding â€œ$8 trillion to our debt.â€
While her debate performance underscored her positioning as the adult in the room and crystallized her take on abortion â€” likely a deciding issue in 2024 â€” whatâ€™s unclear is whether it is enough to break through in a Republican primary electorate dominated by Trump, the Hill wondered.
Haley appeared to be employing a general election strategy at Wednesdayâ€™s debate when she needed to figure out a way to win over primary voters, the publication suggested.
â€œShe could be positioning herself as a better general election candidate, but itâ€™s still going to be hard for her to win the primary with that sort of approach,â€ Kelly Dittmar, the director of research at the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, was quoted as saying.
The latest Real Clear Politics poll average shows Haley polling at 3.2 percent, behind Penceâ€™s 4 percent, Ramaswamyâ€™s 7.2 percent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisâ€™s 14.3 percent and Trumpâ€™s 55.4 percent.
However, Haleyâ€™s team and others in the Republican Party say she is riding a wave of post-debate momentum.
â€œNikki Haley shined on the debate stage. She was tough and honest, which is exactly what the American people need,â€ Annie Dickerson, a veteran Republican fundraiser and founder of Winning for Women Action Fund, which is dedicated to electing Republican women, was quoted as saying.
â€œShe introduced voters to her vision for a strong and proud America, and itâ€™s resonating.â€
In a statement to The Hill, Haleyâ€™s campaign said the response to her debate performance has been â€œoverwhelming.â€
â€œVoters saw Nikki Haleyâ€™s toughness and readiness to be president in last nightâ€™s debate,â€ said Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas.
Haley saw the most improvement from voters of all the candidates after the debate, according to a Washington Post/FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos survey.
Before the debate, 29 percent of Republican primary voters who watched the debate said they planned to vote for her. After the debate, that number jumped to 46 percent.
Website traffic to Haleyâ€™s campaign surged 10 times the normal amount after the debate, and YouTube viewership and following more than doubled in the hours after the debate.
According to Fox News, Haley was the second most Googled candidate after the debate, following Ramaswamy.
Haleyâ€™s allies cited by the Hill have also touted an internal poll commissioned by the pro-DeSantis super PAC that showed Haley rising to third place at 11 percent support. She followed DeSantis at 21 percent support and Trump at 41 percent.
Additionally, her allies are pointing to a poll from the left-leaning firm Navigator Research showing 45 percent of independent and independent-leaning voters in Wisconsin said Haley won the debate, while another 42 percent picked Haley when asked: â€œWho seems like they most care about people like you?â€
â€œOverall, the data clearly shows that while Haleyâ€™s candidacy is gaining support amongst Republican primary voters, her ability to court Independents in battleground states like Wisconsin make her a prime candidate to take on Joe Biden next fall,â€ wrote Mark Harris, the lead strategist for the pro-Haley super PAC SFA Fund Inc., in a Friday memo.