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AFP Action’s endorsement of Nikki Haley highlights the race for second place


United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks with Duke Professor Peter Feaver on April 5, 2018. Photo by Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy.

By Carolina Journal

Staff Reports


Nikki Haley got a boost in her bid for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday in an endorsement from Americans for Prosperity Action. The Koch group pushed out a campaign to promote the former South Carolina governor and former United Nations ambassador.


While her polling numbers are behind her former boss, Donald Trump, they say she is gaining some ground, and they are putting the full force of AFP Action behind her.


“When we set out to change the broken politics of Washington, we made clear that we would back a candidate who could turn the page on today’s toxic culture and lead our country forward, But you can’t advance good policy unless you win,” wrote Emily Seidel, senior advisor for AFP Action. “Our internal polling confirms what our activists are hearing and seeing from voters in the early primary states: Nikki Haley is in the best position to defeat Donald Trump in the primaries.”


In 2022, AFP Action endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and still describe him as a “strong advocate for many important freedom-oriented policies and fiscal responsibility in the Sunshine State.” On Tuesday, DeSantis supporters argued on social media that support for Haley ensures a primary win for Trump.


The Iowa caucuses are Jan. 15, 2024, as the first-in-the-nation test for Republican candidates. Haley is trying to fight DeSantis for the No. 2 spot in the primary race. According to polling released by AFP Action, among Iowa voters Haley is sitting at 17% behind Trump’s significant 44% lead, and ahead of DeSantis’ 16%. That is a four-point jump for her from October to November. AFP Action says the numbers show a momentum that makes Haley the stronger alternative to Trump.


“This is because primary voters have a well-baked opinion of President Trump from his time in office (juxtaposed with their current view of the country under Joe Biden) but have little to no knowledge of alternative candidates,” wrote Michael Palmer, AFP Action’s senior adviser in a memo about the endorsement. “This will change with momentum coming out of the early states and the voters beginning to evaluate their choices.”


The announcement drew criticism Tuesday on social media with commentators calling her a “warmonger” and “Marco Rubio 2.0”.


In an October poll of North Carolina likely voters, Trump had a clear lead among Republicans at 51.8%, with DeSantis at 12% and Haley at 10.6%.

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