When Nikki Haley called Vivek Ramaswamy "scum" on stage last week, serious commentators winced. So gauche. So uncivil! Voters won't like that sort of thing, mused the pundits. But in fact they do like that sort of thing, and it was a canny, marginalizing insult that played on the emerging perception of him as a creepy fraud: a new poll of Republican voters in New Hampshire finds her soaring to 20%, up eight points, mostly at the expensive of Ramaswamy, who sinks to 8%, down five. Also losing relevance is Ron DeSantis, slipping to fourth in a lineup that still overwhelmingly favors the candidate who did not participate in the debate.
This was the poll that captured a huge DeSantis collapse after the 1st debate, he's been in doldrums there as he focuses on Iowa. This poll also makes it likelier that Ramaswamy and Christie will stay onstage for the 4th debate – a dynamic that has been helping Haley. Ramaswamy's negatives keep surging; he's now 9 points underwater w GOP voters in NH
The chart below seems instructive. I think if Christie dropped out, it could put Haley within 10 points of Trump, and we'd have a race. In New Hampshire.
A strong element of her appeal is that she seems to have the best chance of beating Biden. Another poll, a national one, posts her as the only Republican beating him outside the margin of error.