There’s Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Iowa will win. Former President Donald Trump says that he capture the state, with his advisers promising a victory by at least 12 points. And the Vivek Ramaswamy team he said he would be the third.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was not so easy to determine.
Just four days before the caucuses, Haley remained unclear Thursday on where she expects to finish Monday or what she needs to do to get to New Hampshire.
“What I want is I want to be strong in Iowa, strong in New Hampshire, strong in South Carolina. We don’t know what strong looks like until we see the results, do we?” Haley told NBC News. “But I think if we show that we’re strong in Iowa, that will give us a boost going into New Hampshire. That’s what I’m focusing on for Monday.”
That’s the kind of answer Haley and her team gave when it came to anticipating her first caucus state performance. In doing so, they tried to insulate Haley from the expectations game that had the potential to take momentum away from Iowa.
But it also allows him to carry more seats in Iowa and maintain an aura of progress toward New Hampshire, where polling is strong, some Republicans say. Haley has increasingly made her argument one of electability — she’s the inevitable candidate to take on Trump one-on-one — and some observers say that Bolstered by Chris Christie’s departure from Wednesday’s race. Also helping Haley’s argument is that, as the former governor of South Carolina, he is known to voters in an important early primary state.
“Unfortunately, when Governor DeSantis said he was going to win Iowa about a month ago, expectations got a little out of hand. It won’t happen. His best bet is second place, and that’s in question,” said Iowa-based Republican strategist Jimmy Center. “It’s a game of expectations. The really cool thing is, if you’re Team Haley, they don’t need to finish second. They just need a third – and that seems pretty much guaranteed at this point.
If the polls are any guide, DeSantis is narrowly ahead of Haley in Iowa — but among the mistakes — trailing Trump, who both break 50% support. NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey taken last month. In that poll, Trump received 51%, DeSantis 19%, Haley 16% and Ramaswamy 5%. If that happens, it would put him and DeSantis in second and third place.
In Iowa, Haley ran a weak dry run as far as the conservative caucus is concerned For the sake of prosperity, the Americans supported him In late November and this weekend, he plans to have 150 people knocking on doors for him as the brutal winter storms expected in Iowa allow.
However, that organization came well after the DeSantis-aligned Never Back Down super PAC poured more than $100 million into what was promised to be a major grassroots organization.
Last month On NBC News, “Meet the Press,” DeSantis declared: “We’re going to win the caucus.”
Trump promised to win by a wide marginwith senior advisor on his team last month forecasting a margin of at least 12 percentage points. That only led DeSantis to question the estimate and accuse the Trump team of trying to lower expectations for Trump in Iowa.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa — I thought she won 50. She always tells the truth,” DeSantis said. “They’re lowering expectations? I mean, give me a break.”
Marion County GOP Chairman Steven Everly, who is not in the race, said, “Your best bet is to have no expectations. All you have to do is say, “I believe we will do well; we will continue to talk to everyone.” When you start saying you’re going to win by X points and then turn around and not live up to those expectations, you look like a fool.”
Preya Samsundar, a spokeswoman for the Haley-aligned America PAC, said it was never Haley’s strategy to align strongly with any early state; Instead, the strategy is to try to force a final showdown between Haley and Trump.
“It’s not as relevant to him as it is to Ron,” he said. “Do or die for Ron. Nikki makes her way forward wherever she goes. Nikki plays several venues; he didn’t put all his eggs in one basket. He worked in all the first states.”
Looking forward to America itself. On Thursday, it unveiled a new ad called “tantrum.” He attacks Trump. He ran in New Hampshire.
The DeSantis strategist countered that Haley could run in New Hampshire if he finishes third in Iowa. Haley’s recent suggestion that New Hampshire was poised to “fix” the Iowa outcome likely rubbed potential caucusgoers the wrong way, the person said.
But it’s not just Haley’s world that looks beyond Iowa to New Hampshire.
The MAGA world is gearing up for Haley’s performance there, and a flood of donor money is already flowing her way.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s ousted White House chief strategist and architect of his 2016 campaign, said his sharp political acumen should not be minimized.
“This is not Ron DeSantis,” Bannon said of the governor who struggled in the primary campaign and whom Trump claims is responsible for his rise. “This girl came out of the knife fight that is South Carolina Republican politics. He is tough. He represents everything we hate, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take him seriously.”
Joel Maiola, a longtime New Hampshire Republican operative who served as chief of staff to former Sen. Judd Gregg, said Christie left the race just in time to give Haley momentum in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Haley’s campaign just got a turbocharger. … He had a stellar New Hampshire campaign, and now he’s perfectly set up in South Carolina and beyond,” Maiola said. “It’s going to give him a lot of room to go full steam ahead into New Hampshire and other early states.”
Bannon said the MAGA world’s concerns about Haley extend beyond New Hampshire.
“You saw the host committee in New York with all the donors. The date is January 30. It’s a week after New Hampshire,” he said. “That means that even if he doesn’t win New Hampshire, he knows he has the biggest checkbooks in the Republican Party and some of the Democratic Party, which is obviously massive fundraising to allow him to reload for South Carolina. Super Tuesday. He has been in this business for a long time.”