Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley appears to be a rising threat to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the two fight to be the top alternative to former President Trump in the 2024 GOP primary, according to a new survey.
The USA Today/Suffolk poll taken last week has Haley garnering 11 percent support among likely Republican voters, about 1 percentage point below DeSantis’s 12.3 percent support.
Trump maintains a commanding lead at just less than 58 percent.
The numbers spell bad news for DeSantis, who has mostly maintained his second-place spot in GOP primary polling.
Haley’s support is up from her 4.49 percent standing when USA Today/Suffolk conducted the same poll in June. The Florida governor, however, has taken a steep dip after garnering 22.86 percent support in June.
The GOP rivals’ campaigns have spent recent days sparring on foreign policy, specifically over the possibility of the U.S. receiving refugees from Gaza.
DeSantis accused Haley of trying to be “politically correct” on the issue, prompting the former South Carolina governor’s campaign to accuse his team of “falsely describing” her stance on the issue.
The super PACs backing the candidates have also targeted each other. Last week, the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC released an ad showing Haley as being sympathetic to refugees. The pro-Haley SFA PAC pointed to reports that DeSantis was losing donors, calling it “DeSperation.”
Kristin Davison, chief operating officer at Never Back Down, went after Haley’s alleged “flip-flopping” on issues, arguing she “has never had to defend her actions.”
“She’s provided an opportunity with her own missteps to fully expose her record versus rhetoric,” Davison said. “She will not be able to survive that.”
The back-and-forth between the candidates’ campaigns and PACs comes amid Israel’s war with militant group Hamas, which carried out a bloody massacre over two weeks ago that left 1,400 — mostly civilians — dead. Israel responded with a bombardment of Gaza, killing thousands of Palestinians and forcing hundreds of thousands more out of their homes.
In the days that followed the onset of violence, DeSantis argued the U.S. shouldn’t take in Palestinian refugees from Gaza, claiming Gaza civilians are “all antisemitic.”
Asked about DeSantis’s comments on CNN, Haley pointed to her experience at the U.N. and claimed half of Palestinians did not support Hamas, while the other half did. Noting there are “so many people who want to be free from this terrorist rule,” she also questioned why countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Lebanon are not taking in Palestinian refugees.
Never Back Down then posted a clip of Haley’s comments in the interview and claimed she was arguing “in support of bringing Gaza refugees to America.”
But both candidates trail far behind front-runner Trump.
The former president, who has maintained a solid lead among his GOP primary rivals even as he faces multiple criminal indictments, saw his support rise even higher in the USA Today/Suffolk survey, up from 48.16 percent in June.
The poll was taken among 309 Republican and Republican-leaning voters from Oct. 17-20. It has a margin of error of 5.6 percentage points.