March 1, 2024

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley has surpassed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in FiveThirtyEight’s (538) national polling average for the first time in the 2024 campaign. 

Nathaniel Rakich, a senior editor and senior elections analyst for the polling analysis website, announced Haley’s move into second place Tuesday on X, formerly known as Twitter. He noted caveats about the confidence interval of polls and multiple ways that exist to calculate a polling average.

Still, 538’s average has the former United Nations ambassador ahead.

This marks the first time in the 2024 election that Haley has come in second in the pollster’s average — it also highlights her rise in the polls that has taken place over the last few months.

Haley, who is also the former governor of South Carolina, has been gaining momentum since August, with fuel from multiple strong primary debate performances. 

Republican presidential candidates former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (L) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis participate in the NewsNation Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of Alabama Moody Music Hall on December 6, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DeSantis had held second place in the GOP field throughout most of the race and at one time was closely behind former President Trump for the lead. But he has dropped over the months from above 30 percent nationally to low double-digits.

Haley has also taken second place in The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s national political average, having held it since mid-December. She and DeSantis are statistically tied in RealClearPolitics’s polling average. 


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Trump is still the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, holding a 50-point lead in 538’s national average. He also has significant leads in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, but Haley has been gaining in these states also — especially in the latter. 

Haley and DeSantis are set to face off in a debate hosted by CNN in Iowa next week ahead of the Hawkeye State’s Jan. 15 caucuses. Trump will skip the debate again and instead participate in a town hall hosted by Fox News.

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