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Reblogged:Ramaswamy's Sprint, Haley's Marathon?

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At least, that's what Matt Drudge's poll showed this morning, after the first Republican debate. I did not watch, having pretty low expectations, but was curious to see whether anyone would make a strong impression.

Judging by an admittedly early lack of spectacular headlines, it looks like novelty won the day, in the form of Vivek Ramaswamy, who was perhaps aided by being the target of the likes of Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pence.

As of this morning, Ramaswamy had won just under a third of the votes in the Drudge poll. Haley's second was just over one-fifth, about three percentage points ahead of Christie and Ron DeSantis, who didn't exactly revive his flagging status as top alternative to Trump, but might perhaps be content to lie in wait in the hopes that Trump gets sunk.

It's hard to draw a definitive conclusion from the debate, but I'm cautiously optimistic for Haley, assuming other polls show similar results.

I take my lead from a good description of the contenders, in both leaning towards Ramaswamy's current strength reflecting his novelty and Haley's current weakness her relative lack of exposure.

Regarding Ramaswamy, Philip Wegmann of RealClear Politics has this to say of the "surging enigma:"
He is fast-talking and unapologetically optimistic about the future of the country, so long as the nation embraces his prescription for a second revolution, what he calls "our 1776 moment." Everyone is paying attention now, including DeSantis, whose allies are urging him to take the fight to Ramaswamy. The fear? Ramaswamy could easily steal the spotlight.

His campaign argues the primary is already a two-man race between him and the other Florida man. In a leaked memo obtained by RCP, they told their donors Ramaswamy is set to "eclipse DeSantis." He has a chance to prove it in Milwaukee.

"Campaigns like his, which come out of nowhere and get early momentum, tend to flame out," [Republican strategist Alex] Conant said, pointing to stars that burned bright right before crashing, like Herman Cain. A big part of avoiding that fate could be demonstrating policy expertise, particularly in foreign affairs. [bold added]
I'm not writing him off, but I will hardly be the last potential supporter to start out intrigued only to find myself having a major problem with him. His stated positions, being the hodgepodge they are, are practically guaranteed to make up for his charisma down the line.

So we have Ramaswamy, who was polling among the top three non-Trumps heading in finishing first. Compare this to Nikki Haley, who was in single digits coming in. Wegmann's preview of Haley ("experienced, but overlooked") reads in part:
She has attacked Trump for his skepticism of the war in Ukraine, DeSantis for his metaphorical war with Disney, and Ramaswamy over his plan to cut aid to Israel. It hasn't worked.

But Haley has a unique advantage as the only woman on stage at a moment when her party desperately needs to win back that constituency, and she has succeeded where her competitors struggled. For instance, Haley was the rare candidate to handle populist firebrand Tucker Carlson with ease. And if her competition looks past her, they may open themselves up to a broadside.

"She is someone who could easily be declared the winner of the debate if she delivers some punches and doesn't take any," Conant said.
If the below is any indication, Haley certainly did land some punches:
Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
The truth is that Biden didn't do this to us. Our Republicans did this to us too. When they passed that $2.2 trillion Covid stimulus bill, they left us with 90 million people on Medicaid, 42 million people on food stamps. No one had told you how to fix it. I'll tell you how to fix it. They need to stop the spending, they need to stop the borrowing, they need to eliminate the earmarks that Republicans brought back in, and they need to make sure they understand these are taxpayer dollars, it's not their dollars. And while they're all saying this, you have Ron DeSantis, you've got Tim Scott, you've got Mike Pence, they all voted to raise the debt and Donald Trump added 8 trillion to our debt and our kids are never gonna forgive us for this. And so at the end of the day, you look at the 2024 budget, Republicans asked for 7.4 billion in earmarks, Democrats asked for 2.8 billion. So you tell me who are the big spenders. [my emphasis]
Again, assuming other polls are consistent with Drudge, Haley might have really helped her cause with her performance, as one might hope it did.

Regarding DeSantis, Christie, and Pence, I see all of these as "Trump-limited." The former apes Trump too much, the second is too focused on attacking Trump, and the last is too religious.

Pence is the kind of candidate holy rollers would have backed before their orange savior showed up in 2016. His natural constituency won't return, either, ironically because he did his job by certifying the election of Trump's opponent. Pence's ceiling is Trump's ceiling minus anyone who feels aggrieved by that fact. And, while I thank Pence for upholding his oath of office in that moment, I can't overlook his theocratic tendencies, and I doubt others will, either.

-- CAV

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