Is Nikki Haley Trying to Beat Trump? Or Help Him?
Stopping Trump versus creating permissions structures for people to vote for him later.
Does it still count as news that we’ve got another strong jobs report? 199,000 new jobs added in November; the unemployment rate fell. Again.
But Joe Biden is a day older than he was yesterday, so . . . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, before we get moving: Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish friends. Our thoughts are with you, this year in particular.
It finally happened: Nikki Haley has topped Ron DeSantis in a national poll. We’re probably a week from her passing him for second place in the national average.
So what, exactly, does that mean?
I can see two possible answers. The first is that Nikki Haley is attempting to do the thing we all want someone to do: Stop Trump.
The second is that Haley is actually helping Trump.
The problem is that we won’t know which is the truth until the primary is over.
Let’s start with a question: What would you do if you were Nikki Haley’s campaign manager? There are two theories of the case.
Theory #1: You attack Trump in order to take his voters from him. The reality is that Trump’s support is > 4x Haley’s support. She cannot get to even half his level simply by consolidating other candidates’ voters. She must take people from him.
Robert Kagan has an idea about how to do this:
[T]here is only one way to cut into his mammoth majority, and that is by raising doubts about Trump’s electability. The way to do that is to warn those Republicans still capable of listening that a Trump presidency really does pose a risk to our freedom and democracy and the Constitution. That is what will be required to win over the small percentage of Republicans who are still willing to drop Trump if he is convicted. And if Haley can begin to reel in those voters, she can begin to raise doubts in the minds of those who are supporting Trump because they think he can defeat Biden and the Democrats in November. In short, the way to beat Trump is to make him seem unelectable, and the way to make him seem unelectable is to show that he is unacceptable.
The emphasis is mine.
Is Kagan correct that this is the only potential pathway for beating Trump? Possibly. But there’s another view.
Theory #2: If you attack Trump then you can’t get a hearing from Republican voters.