GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley leads President Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head race, but she still trails former President Trump by a large margin in the GOP primary, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The Messenger/Harris poll found that a Haley-Biden match-up would result in a 4-point lead for the former South Carolina governor. Trump would also lead Biden by a 7-point margin, the survey shows.
But the GOP primary is less competitive, with Trump holding a massive lead over Haley and Gov. Ron DeSantis (Fla.) in mock match-ups. Just over three-quarters of GOP voters — 76 percent — sided with the former president over Haley, the poll found; just under three-quarters – 73 percent — said the same against DeSantis.
Despite surging momentum, Haley has so far failed to turn a rising primary campaign into a serious Trump challenge. She is neck-and-neck with DeSantis in national polling for second place in the primary, but neither candidate is close to unseating Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee.
According to the poll, Haley would also significantly outperform DeSantis against Biden, and would attract more independent voters than Trump — 40 percent of independents would support Haley, while 37 would back Trump.
About 20 percent of respondents were undecided.
“The Haley phenomenon is driven by moderate Republicans, Independents and disaffected voters,” Harris’s chief pollster Dritan Nesho said. “She beats Biden handily in a general election because of this but still has a lot of ground to make up with Republicans.”
The fourth debate of the GOP primary is slated for Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and all eyes will be on Haley. The Republican National Committee announced Monday night that four candidates qualified to make the stage: Haley, DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Trump, like the first three debates, has signaled he will not attend. Instead, he is expected to participate in a town hall hosted by Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.
The Messenger/Harris surveyed about 2,000 people online last week, with a margin of error of about 2 percent.