Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Why DeSantis Attacks Haley

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • Some Missouri Republicans keep advancing a bogus rationale to justify the 2022 elimination of the presidential primary in the Show-Me state. And FHQ keeps getting irritated by it. Venting... All the details at FHQ Plus.
If you haven't checked out FHQ Plus yet, then what are you waiting for? Subscribe below for free and consider a paid subscription to support FHQ's work and unlock the full site.

In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
On its surface, the latest fusillade from DeSantis-affiliated super PAC Never Back Down against Nikki Haley seems to fit into the now-conventional narrative of a fight for second place in the Republican presidential nomination race behind former President Donald Trump. 

It comes from a branch of the consolidation theory of the race. That, if only the race narrowed to Trump and an alternative, then that alternative, whomever he or she may be, could finally overtake Trump. Mathematically, that makes some sense. Some sense, but it has made less and less sense over time as Trump has expanded his lead in the polls nationally and on the state level. After all, if Trump is pulling in more than a half of support in surveys, much less votes during primary season next year, then it is going to take more than just a one-on-one with the former president for an alternative topple him. It is going to take something else. In other words, it continues to be consolidation theory but with a side of magical thinking. 

However, the DeSantis case is a bit different than it may be for other would-be second placers. And the explanation may be simpler for why the Florida governor and company are going after Haley (and putting off focusing on Trump for a hypothetical one-on-one). And it has everything to do with the trajectory of the DeSantis campaign. It is not so much that DeSantis has lost or is about to cede second place to Haley. Rather, it is about how he has lost second place (if he has lost it). As DeSantis' fortunes have declined, it is Trump who has gained the most. And one does not win back former supporters who have drifted over into the Trump column by attacking Trump. 

The campaign may not win them back by fighting Nikki Haley either. But overall, the move stands less a chance of success by directly taking on Trump now.1 

That said, this is another case of Trump benefiting from opposing campaigns putting off the inevitable. Short-term motivations outweigh long-term considerations.

From around the invisible primary...
  • Iowa focus: DeSantis has some company in the "all in in Iowa" category. The campaign of South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has now also begun to redirect money and staff to the first-in-the-nation caucuses in the Hawkeye state. 
  • Debates: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's campaign has indicated that he has qualified for the November 8 debate in Miami. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has met the donor threshold, but continues to fall short of the polling criteria. 
  • New Hampshire entrants: Both Donald Trump and Mike Pence filed in Concord on Monday to appear on ballot in the as yet unscheduled primary in the Granite state.
  • Quiet winnowing: If a candidate is winnowed from the field and no one is there to see it, has that candidate really been winnowed? FHQ does not know. What is known is that businessman Perry Johnson has suspended his presidential campaign. Yeah, that is winnowing.
  • Staff primary: Staffers in the Florida governor's office keep leaving their jobs and finding their way into roles with the DeSantis campaign
  • Blast from the past: Trump's expanded lead has made this a bit less of a thing, but calibrating Trump 2024 to Trump 2020 and/or Trump 2016 is still a thing if attempting to assess where his current campaign is now. Tending the grassroots in New Hampshire in 2023 appears to be ahead of where it was in 2015. But support is not nearly as consolidated behind him as it was in 2019.
  • Consolidation theory, South Carolina edition: The editorial board at the Charleston Post & Courier called on hometown candidate Tim Scott to withdraw and clear the way for Nikki Haley to challenge Trump in the state and nomination race.

1 Note also that DeSantis has upped the attacks on Trump lately. But the overall effort is not exclusively homed in on Trump.


No comments: