November 29, 2023

AFP Endorses Haley

“Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the powerful Koch network, formally endorsed Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign on Tuesday, promising to commit its nationwide coalition of activists — and virtually unlimited funds — to helping Haley defeat former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary contest.” AP News

Both sides see this as a boost for Haley but remain skeptical about her chances of winning the nomination:

“Haley has succeeded in outlasting other contenders — [she] benefits from Scott’s departure, leaving her as the sole South Carolina candidate — but the big question is whether she can actually make the leap from consolidating the moderate and traditional Reaganite vote to something that could defeat Trump…

“AFP Action says that it has contacted some 6 million voters so far — a big number, given that Trump won the 2016 primary with a little over 14 million votes. The group argues that it is possible to change the trajectory of the primary by persuading regular Republican general-election voters who don’t typically vote in primaries to turn out against Trump. That, too, is untested — it sounds a lot like Ted Cruz’s theory in 2016 – but AFP Action has the resources to make it worth the attempt.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

“The endorsement matters both materially and symbolically. AFP Action has deep pockets, and it has already spent a significant amount of money on the race. It has spent $4 million on ads so far in the election cycle and raised more than $70 million in the first half of the year, according to NBC News. And as The New York Times reports, the endorsement will strengthen her organizational capacity significantly by giving her access to a direct mail program, field workers and phone bank operations…

“More broadly, AFP Action’s decision is a signal that in the ‘invisible primary’ — during which powerful donors, activists and party elites try to pick candidates before the actual primaries begin — Haley is moving ahead of DeSantis. As exciting as all this news is for Haley, it shouldn’t breed delusions about her winning the Republican nomination. Given the extraordinary size of Trump’s lead in the polls, she isn’t competing for front-runner status, but rather for the status of front-runner against Trump.”
Zeeshan Aleem, MSNBC

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A libertarian's take

“In the days before the Koch network announced its gift of cash and organizational muscle to the Haley team, the press was stirring the pot to make it seem like she was making the 2024 contest a real race… Just this week, the press — Associated Press, POLITICO, cable news — marveled at the fact that Haley drew 2,700 to a Monday campaign rally, even though it was held in her home state of South Carolina, where it was inconceivable that she wouldn’t attract a crowd…

“What has the press hyperventilating about Haley is not her relative rise in the national polls over the past month (about two percentage points), or the fact that she’s drawing even with DeSantis in Iowa. Nor is it the remote possibility that she’ll eclipse former President Trump. No, what’s causing the swoon is her uphill climb to defeat DeSantis for the meaningless position as the second-place finisher in the race…

“News outlets run as fail-safe systems, designed to function even in the case of such reportorial emergencies as when a candidate leads by a margin that not even a deep trough of $70 million in Koch money can alter.”
Jack Shafer, Politico

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