A new poll finds Nikki Haley is the best Republican candidate to beat Joe Biden for the White House, especially among independent voters.
Poll result: Haley, 51, led the sitting president by two points (40% to 38%) in the latest poll by J.L. Partners for the Daily Mail, which surveyed 1,000 likely voters from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20. Former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott all bested Biden by one point, while entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Vice President Mike Pence both lost to Biden by three and eight points, respectively.
Independent edge: Haley’s advantage was most prominent among independent voters. Amongst this group, she beat Biden by 19 points, the widest margin across the GOP pool. Scott and DeSantis followed with 16- and 10-point leads, respectively. Meanwhile, Trump and Pence both led Biden by just two points.
Beating Biden: The new poll supports Haley’s positioning of herself as the best Republican to defeat Joe Biden in a general election. Earlier this month, a CNN/SSRS poll also showed that the former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor is the only GOP candidate to unseat Biden outside the margin of error.
Biden’s own campaign is reportedly worried about Haley. In August, a senior Democratic strategist close to the team told Politico, “If they nominate Nikki Haley, we’re in trouble.”
Haley’s appeal to independents is often attributed to her more moderate policies that resonate with voters looking for an alternative to Donald Trump. She told Fox News earlier this year: “[Democrats] know that I am the biggest threat that liberals have ever seen and they’re scared about it.”
The big picture: While Haley has seen her poll numbers increase since the first GOP debate, Trump remains the top presidential candidate among Republican primary voters. Still, Haley has now emerged as a clear contender for second place, according to another new poll out of New Hampshire.
More donors are also expected to support Haley. Reuters reportedly spoke to four donors and “one source close to a major donor” who are all keen on donating should her campaign continue to strengthen.
The Hill, MSNBC and The Washington Post all declared Haley as winner of the second GOP debate. One of her most memorable moments of the night was when she took down Ramaswamy for his TikTok stance, saying, “Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”