Jan 19, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump pollster predicts "smackdown" of Haley in South Carolina

Illustration of a red neck tie trapping an elephant.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Donald Trump's longtime pollster told donors and select supporters Friday that the former president "is set to deliver a South Carolina smackdown to Nikki Haley in her home state where she is best known," according to a private polling memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The new polling sets high expectations for Trump in the critical South Carolina primary but may convince the GOP establishment to further consolidate behind Trump because the memo suggests that none of Trump's rivals have a chance going forward.

  • Trump is trying to effectively end the GOP primary next week with a big win in the New Hampshire primary after a 30-point victory in Iowa on Monday.

By the numbers: The poll conducted by Tony Fabrizio — Trump's chief pollster in 2016 and 2020, who is now working through the main Trump-aligned Super PAC — found Trump beating Haley by 39 points in the state where she was governor.

  • Fabrizio found Trump with 64% support in South Carolina, Haley with 25%, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 8%.
  • Fabrizio said 58% of Trump supporters will "definitely" vote for him while only 18% of Haley supporters say the same.

If DeSantis dropped out, Fabrizio found that more DeSantis voters went to Trump than Haley, a trend other polls have also found.

  • In a one-on-one race between Trump and Haley, Trump had 68% support with Haley at 28%.

Zoom in: The poll was a survey of 600 voters in South Carolina who are likely to participate in the 2024 GOP primary, according to the memo.

  • In a potentially ominous sign for Haley, 50% of the respondents had a four-year college degree, a demographic she has performed well with in other states.

Between the lines: Trump has worked to consolidate the GOP establishment behind him in the weeks leading up to New Hampshire to try to end the primary campaign early and begin the general election campaign against Biden.

  • In the past week, Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and former 2024 primary rival Tim Scott have all endorsed Trump.
  • Haley has been polling well in New Hampshire, however, and a good performance could give her momentum and new money for the next month going into South Carolina.
  • A dominant victory in New Hampshire for Trump will likely make it harder for DeSantis and Haley to raise significant money for the four weeks before the South Carolina primary.

Read the memo:

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