Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Tyler Raygor rang the doorbell of a gray, one-story house in a neighborhood in northern Ames, Iowa, and patiently waited for a man in a hoodie and jeans to answer. When Mike Morton appeared, Raygor launched into a persuasive pitch for Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina. Despite already leaning towards Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida or former President Donald J. Trump in the upcoming caucuses, Morton had not considered Haley. After Raygor pointed to a recent poll showing Haley leading President Biden in a general election matchup and emphasized her time serving as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Morton felt compelled to take a closer look at Haley’s campaign. As a result of Raygor’s visit, Morton, age 54, stated that he would “definitely look closer at Haley.” He admitted that had Raygor not come to his house, he may have overlooked her.

With just under a month left before the caucuses, the goal of Haley’s campaign and Americans for Prosperity Action is to take advantage of the momentum that her presidential bid has gained over recent months by making efforts to connect with persuadable voters and solidify her as the chief alternative to Trump for the Republican nomination. This momentum is reflected in improved polling results in early voting states such as New Hampshire and South Carolina, indicating that she might secure a better finish than expected in Iowa.

Haley’s campaign received an 11th-hour boost when Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed her last month. This has given her access to donors and additional funds for television spots and mail adverts. In Iowa, the A.F.P. Action is networking with staff members such as Mr. Raygor to canvass the state and persuade voters to consider voting for Haley. These efforts involve about 150 volunteer and part-time staff members and aim to knock on 100,000 doors before the caucuses. They have also spent over $5.7 million on pro-Haley ads and canvassing efforts nationwide.

Haley and Florida Governor DeSantis are both competing for undecided voters in what may be a dwindling pool, given that Trump maintains a strong lead. Various polls show Trump as the top choice among Republican voters likely to caucus, and while DeSantis’s support has risen slightly, Haley’s has remained the same. The situation seems challenging given the time and resources spent in Iowa by DeSantis and the groups backing him.

However, the A.F.P. Action’s endorsement and intensive ground campaign could be a game-changer for Haley in Iowa. They argue that the push is arriving at the right time as a significant portion of constituents are only starting to pay attention to the Republican nomination race. Despite the challenges, Mr. Raygor is confident that winter will not deter their team, claiming that they are willing to knock on doors even in negative-30-degree wind chills. Their winter efforts around Ames and Cedar Rapids have been met with mixed results, highlighting the significant obstacles of reaching voters so close to the caucuses. Although their push may have come late, they have yet to give up. Ultimately, Haley’s campaign is focusing on strategy and a ground game in Iowa as they gear up for their final push before the caucuses.

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