Basking in fresh momentum gained after her forceful performance in the first two Republican presidential debates, Indian American Nikki Haley has emerged as the main rival to former President Donald Trump going by two new Republican primary polls.
While Trump enjoys a significant lead in two early nominating contests of New Hampshire and South Carolina, Haley, first Indian American to get a cabinet rank as Trump’s UN Ambassador, finished in second place in both — ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
In New Hampshire, Haley beat DeSantis 19% to 10% in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe/USA TODAY survey released on Wednesday morning even as Trump leads the pack with support from 49% of likely Republican primary voters.
READ: Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley forge ahead of Ron DeSantis (September 21, 2023)
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets 6%, and Indian American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, both get 4%. Former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum trailed even further behind, with just 1% each.
In South Carolina, meanwhile, a Winthrop University poll has Trump at 51% among Republican voters, Haley at 17%, DeSantis at 12% and Scott at 6%. Scott sticking at fourth place, at least for now, is notable, given that he represents South Carolina in the Senate.
The USA Today/Boston Globe/Suffolk poll was conducted Sep 28-Oct 2 of 500 likely New Hampshire primary voters, and it has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.
The Winthrop poll of South Carolina was conducted Sep 23-Oct 1, and it has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 points for Republican primary voters.
The polls are the latest measure of Haley’s bounce — and DeSantis’ backslide — in the Republican primary, after the first two debates. It comes just days before Republican candidates will flood New Hampshire next week, starting with the former president on Monday and most of the rest of the field at a weekend cattle call hosted by the state Republican Party.