Primaries, Polls and Party Shares: It’s Time for the Mailbag.


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I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. We haven’t received many questions about the Republican primary recently, even though the Iowa Caucus is less than three weeks away. But we have gotten a few, and many on other topics, so let’s dive into the mailbox one last time in 2023.

What if some of us former Republicans, now independents or Democrats thanks to Trump, registered as Republicans in order to vote for Nikki Haley in the primary? As a New Jersey voter, it wouldn’t really matter here, because the primaries are usually decided before they get to us. I would much rather see her on the ballot than Trump. Would a push like that do anything? — Nancy Dries

Ms. Haley trails by 50 points in the national polls, so realistically it’s going to take a lot more than moderate Democrats switching for the race to become competitive.

But that doesn’t mean that Democrats and independents won’t play a role. Unlike New Jersey, many states have open primaries where Democrats will be able to vote in the Republican primary without changing their registration at all. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ms. Haley fares especially well in states like those, including South Carolina. She’ll also probably fare well in states where independent voters can participate, like New Hampshire.

When I look at a recent poll of Iowa voters, I see that Trump is at 44 percent with DeSantis and Haley tied at 17 percent. Trump is clearly leading, but there are a lot of voters who are aligning themselves with DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy and Christie. And a small number of voters who are undecided.

If the Republican field were to narrow down to one candidate who runs against Trump, where do the supporters of those other candidates go? — Steven Brown

When we surveyed Iowa back in July, we found Donald J. Trump leading Ron DeSantis by 16 points, 55 percent to 39 percent, in a hypothetical one-on-one matchup. Mr. DeSantis won just 51 percent of the voters who didn’t back him or Mr. Trump, and I’d guess the tally is worse for him today, given the trend in the polls since then. I’d also guess it’s worse for Ms. Haley, who would need to win over relatively conservative DeSantis voters.

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Primaries, Polls and Party Shares: It’s Time for the Mailbag.

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