Savior—or Spoiler? How Nikki Haley Could Hand the Presidency Back to the Democrats in 2024 | Opinion

Former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley launched her campaign for the White House on Tuesday. In formally announcing the bid she had teased for weeks, Haley, who served as United Nations Ambassador under former President Donald Trump, has entered what is expected to be a packed GOP field competing for the party's 2024 nomination.

Still, two names top every poll in the Republican contest with no other candidate coming close: Trump, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And lately, DeSantis is doing better than Trump.

In a head-to-head match-up in a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, DeSantis bested Trump, 45 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided. Interestingly, when Haley was factored in, she weakened DeSantis, enabling her former boss to pull ahead by three points.

In other words, even as the Republican Party appears to be moving towards DeSantis and away from Trump, Haley may prove to be the spoiler that guarantees Trump the GOP nomination in 2024. This would spell disaster for Republicans, even against the historically unpopular President Biden: According to the same poll, if the election were held today, DeSantis would beat Biden 44 percent to 43 percent, while Biden would defeat Trump 47 percent to 41 percent.

Handing the presidency back to Biden because you split the Republican vote would be quite the legacy.

Previously, Haley insisted she would not challenge Trump if he decided to run again, but in January, Trump told the media that Haley called him to discuss her run against him. The former President later posted on his social media platform Truth Social that "Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!"

It was an underhanded way of conveying exactly what he thought of her flip-flop, underscored by the video he shared of Haley saying she would support Trump if he ran in 2024 and not enter the race.

Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, grew up to become South Carolina's first female governor and advocated well for Trump's "America First" policies as his Ambassador to the U.N. She left the administration in 2018 on good terms with Trump. But four years later, her relationship with Trump and—more importantly—with his supporters is more complex.

Haley drew the ire of many of his supporters for statements condemning Trump's rhetoric leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. I've heard from Trump faithful repeatedly that not only would they not accept her as a replacement for Trump, but they do not want her even for a post in a potential second Trump administration.

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley visits "Hannity" at Fox News Channel Studios on January 20, 2023 in New York City. Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Haley's name has been floated as a potential running mate for DeSantis, who Trump clearly views as his top rival, even though the popular Florida governor has not yet formally declared his intention to run; last week, Trump and his surrogates began a vitriolic campaign against DeSantis, unsuccessfully attempting to paint the Florida governor as having been on the wrong side of school and work closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, it's not likely to be a three-way race, either. News leaked Monday that Haley's fellow South Carolinian, Senator Tim Scott, the only Black Republican senator, is also mulling a presidential bid. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also considering runs, but the list of potentials goes on, especially of governors who may throw their hats into the ring: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin have all been mentioned in Republican circles as potential candidates.

One thing is clear: The Republicans have a much deeper bench of candidates than their Democratic rivals.

What remains to be seen is whether Nikki Haley plays the role of spoiler to her party. A long shot candidate without a real lane, that would be the real significance of her announcement.

Ari Hoffman is the host of The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI and the West Coast Editor of The Post Millennial. Originally from New York, he now lives with his family in Seattle, WA.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.