Washington Watch: Haley looks like top challenger to Trump ahead of latest GOP debate, with a Social Security plan that’s ‘differentiating’ her

by | Nov 5, 2023 | Stock Market

As the third Republican presidential debate nears, Nikki Haley’s chances of becoming the party’s 2024 nominee have been improving, with betting markets tracked by RealClearPolitics putting them at 9% to 11% over the past week. That sets her just ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the first time this year, as the Florida governor’s chances have dropped to 8% or 9%, according to RCP’s data. She’s still still far behind frontrunner Donald Trump, who is above 70% and again plans to skip debating his rivals.

Related: Here’s how betting markets can go wrong on elections Haley is also the distant No. 2 behind Trump in polls for the key primary state of New Hampshire, getting 15% support vs. his 47%, according to an average of surveys from RCP. In addition, she tied for second with DeSantis at 16% in a recent poll in Iowa, another crucial state, though DeSantis still has an edge over her in RCP’s average for Iowa polls. The former South Carolina governor has been on the rise in part due to her strong showings at the GOP presidential primary’s debates in August and September, according to Debbie Walsh, director for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “She clearly had a very strong debate performance in both the first and the second debates, and in my humble opinion, looked like the adult in the room through much of that,” Walsh said. Women candidates face stereotypes about not being tough enough but Haley has managed to come across as sufficiently formidable, especially as a fellow South Carolinian, Sen. Tim Scott, “came after her in a pretty aggressive way” during the second debate, the Rutgers expert said. “She held her own, and I think she’ll have to do that again,” Walsh told MarketWatch. She said it’s paying off for Haley that she served as Trump’s ambassador to the U.N. after her stint as governor, as she’s now showing her foreign-policy expertise in the debates and standing up to rivals who challenge her in that area. But Walsh argued that Haley is striking a balance as well, such as in talking about being a wife and mother or in bringing up areas where Americans can find agreement when she talks about abortion. Democrats have seized on abortion rights as a campaign issue since the Supreme Court’s decision last year that overturned Roe v. Wade, and that approach found traction with voters in last year’s midterm elections. “She says, ‘I’m pro-life,’ but she also says, ‘Can’t we talk about some places where we can agree, like bir …

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