Nikki Haley says she isn’t interested in running for president in 2020, but a new poll shows she would be in a strong position if she did — even if it meant going up against her old boss, President Donald Trump.
The poll, conducted by the analytics firm Applecart, found Haley is the strongest of 10 potential challengers to Trump in a Republican presidential primary. She is the only challenger who could garner majority support from potential voters in two key primary states.
Of likely GOP primary or caucus voters in 2020, 52 percent in New Hampshire and 51 percent in Iowa said they would consider casting their vote for the outgoing U.N. ambassador over Trump. None of the nine other potential Republican challengers — whom Applecart declined to name — were able to garner the support of more than 50 percent of the voters surveyed.
Haley also had the lowest number of respondents saying they would not consider voting for her — 40 percent in New Hampshire and 38 percent in Iowa.
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Voters in South Carolina, another early primary state where Haley also happened to be governor for six years, were not surveyed as part of the poll.
Haley’s resignation was announced Tuesday at the White House, earning the former governor plaudits from many for how she handled her time representing Trump to the rest of the world — and sparking speculation about her future plans.
The Applecart poll was commissioned by the advocacy group Defending Democracy Together. Its board includes several prominent conservatives who have been critical of Trump — Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina.
The poll result that most interested Matt Kalmans, the president and chief executive of Applecart, was how many voters said they would be willing to change their minds about supporting Trump in 2020.
In all, 47 percent of those surveyed said they were willing to support another candidate. Of those who said they would consider Haley, 45 percent initially said they would not vote for a Republican other than Trump.
“The conventional wisdom is that nobody can beat him, and we saw that he has very high approval ratings (among GOP voters),” Kalmans said. “But we saw an openness to an alternative.”
The poll was conducted by live phone interviews from Sept. 18-23, before Haley announced she was leaving the Trump administration. Applecart reached 1,200 likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers and 1,200 likely New Hampshire primary voters.
Voter registration deadline Wednesday
Did you miss your chance to vote in next month’s election?
Normally, South Carolina’s deadline to register to vote falls 30 days before the election, which this year would have been Oct. 7.
Would-be voters either can register in person before the close of business Wednesday at their county voter registration office or online at SCVotes.org until midnight. Registration forms sent by mail have to be postmarked to your county voting office by Wednesday.