Nikki Haley poaches donors from Republican rivals

From left, Republican presidential candidates: former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson; former New Jersey governor Chris Christie; former vice president Mike Pence; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy; former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley; Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.); and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Joshua Lott

November 13 — Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is poaching donors from her Republican competitors, fueling a surge in her presidential campaign and opening the door to support from other major financial contributors.

Haley has vaulted into second place in polls of several early primary voting states, following strong debate performances that have earned the praise of Citadel’s Ken Griffin. To build on that momentum, she’s spent recent weeks attending back-to-back fundraisers and seen some donors switch their allegiances to her.

Haley lured in 250 contributors – including billionaire Harlan Crow and Bruce Kovner of Caxton Alternative Management, who had previously given at least $200 to other Republican campaigns – during the third quarter, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. Those donors collectively gave her $218,000, with the vast majority of that sum coming after her breakout first debate in late August.

Her status as the top poacher from July through September helped Haley’s fundraising operation and poll numbers rival those of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Since the summer, DeSantis has lost momentum in polls, laid off staff and had trouble with fundraising.

Haley had 87 new contributors to her campaign in the third quarter who previously gave at least $200 to DeSantis, according to campaign finance filings. By contrast, DeSantis’s campaign lost significantly more donors to other campaigns than they poached.

Many donors give to multiple candidates during the primaries and their financial support doesn’t necessarily mean they will vote for the most recent recipient of their contributions. Still, the overall fundraising trends are closely watched by major contributors – many of whom have soured on former President Donald Trump – and are still deciding if they want to back another candidate.

Trump, the clear frontrunner in the GOP race, can rely on his loyal base of small-dollar donors who can give multiple times, but most other campaigns don’t have that same network. Others, such as Haley and DeSantis, rely on contributors who give the maximum $3,300 amount and need to attract new donors, including those who have given to other candidates, to be financially viable.

Jeremy Fielding, a Texas donor to Republicans, wants his party to move on from Trump. He initially supported South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, but wasn’t impressed with his performance in the first debate.

“I am now Team Haley,” Fielding said, adding that he’d love to see other candidates drop out soon so she could battle Trump head-to-head.

Scott announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign on Nov. 12, potentially opening an opportunity for Haley and others to attract more of his supporters.

More than 27% of donors who gave $200 or more to Scott also contributed to other campaigns in the last quarter. Trump, Haley and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had the most loyal donor bases, among contributors giving at least $200, with more than 90% of their donors giving exclusively to their campaigns.

Haley’s fundraising momentum has continued into the fourth quarter, according to a person familiar with her campaign’s finances. Her strong debate performances and support for Israel after the attack by Hamas – which has been designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union – have accelerated the trend, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter because they don’t speak for the campaign.

On Monday, her campaign announced plans to book $10 million in television, radio and digital advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire for the week of December. They are the first two Republican primary voting states.

Attracting new donors before next year’s early nominating contests is critical, with some campaigns already starting to eat into their reserves in the third quarter. Scott, whose presidential campaign started with $21 million in the bank, spent almost three times as much as he raised from July to September. Entrepreneuer Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign spending outpaced earnings and DeSantis spent nearly everything he raised in the third quarter.

Trump and Haley are spending much less than they’re raising, but the former president enjoys a huge financial advantage. He ended September with $37.5 million cash on hand, more than three times the $11.6 million Haley had in the bank at that time.



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