Knives out: Can a surging Haley survive what's next?

She's rising in the polls while her rivals are dropping out, but is Nikki Haley ready to be the GOP primary's #1 target?

Photo composite of Nikki Haley surrounded by knives
Does Haley have what it takes to survive the onslaught of opposition that comes with pulling ahead in the polls?
(Image credit: Illustrated / Getty Images)

By any objective measure, 2024 is off to a pretty good start for Nikki Haley. The former South Carolina governor and onetime Trump administration cabinet member has been steadily gaining ground in Republican primary polls, and is — for now — enjoying that ineffable narrative of political "momentum" which fuels a positive feedback loop for more quantifiable data such as polling numbers and fundraising stats; the better Haley seems to do, the better she will ostensibly do when voters head to their caucus sites and polling locations, starting next week. 

But as Haley's momentum — both narratively and on the ground — intensifies, so does the level of scrutiny applied to her and her campaign. With her potential viability against former President Donald Trump, the party's decisive primary frontrunner for the time being, coming into clearer focus, she has increasingly become a target for the rest of a GOP pack who are eager to fend her off from above, or overtake her from below. Now, in the shadow of the looming Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, Haley's rising star faces a political crucible unlike anything she's experienced in the race thus far. Does she have what it takes to survive the onslaught of opposition that comes with pulling ahead in the polls? And if so, can Nikki Haley really go all the way to the White House?    

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