Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis projected confidence one day ahead of the Iowa caucuses despite multiple polls showing they are falling behind former President Trump when it comes to the nation’s first nominating contest of the 2024 election.
Both candidates made appearances on the Sunday morning political TV circuit where they made some of their final campaign pitches ahead of the GOP Iowa caucuses slated for Monday. On “Fox News Sunday,” Haley and DeSantis expressed confidence their work on the ground will pay off.
“I think we’ve always had a target on our back because we’ve been the one moving up. Everybody else is going down, and that’s a great thing,” Haley told anchor Shannon Bream.
“But the real poll, you know, is on caucus day. And what we’ve said is just we want to come out of Iowa looking strong. We want to come out of New Hampshire strong. We want to come out in South Carolina strong,” Haley added. “This is, you know, continuing state by state and trying to get every single vote that we can, and we’re not going to stop until that very last second.”
DeSantis projected a similar sentiment.
“Well, we’ve got a great path going forward. We’re going to do well on Monday. We’ve got an unbelievable organization. We’ve got large numbers of Iowans that have committed to caucus force that are going to show up.”
“We’ve worked very hard over the last six months to go to all 99 counties to build the organization, to get people at their doors committed,” he said. “And so we’re looking forward to it. We’ve done it the right way.”
DeSantis on ABC “This Week” also welcomed being an “underdog.”
“We’re going to do well, but I’d rather have people count us out. I’d rather have people lower expectations for us. I tend to perform better like that,” he told co-anchor Jonathan Karl.
The candidates dismissed concerns about the most recent NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, which showed that among likely GOP caucusgoers in Iowa, former President Trump had 48 percent support, Haley had 20 percent support and DeSantis had 16 percent support.
DeSantis noted that the weather Monday will likely keep some people home, but he was confident that the door-knocking his campaign has done will convince Iowans to come out anyway.
“Historically, when you have the energy on the ground, which we do, when you’ve gone to all 99 counties, when you have the organization, that’s what you need to do to do well in a caucus, but particularly in these conditions because there’s going to be every excuse in the world for someone to say, ‘You know what, maybe I’m not going,’” he told Bream.
“Our folks are motivated. They’re going. They’re on a mission. We’ve got people, Shannon, from all over the country that have come to, in the middle of a blizzard, to Iowa, just to make phone calls for us, to knock on doors and tell Iowans why they want to see me be the Republican candidate, the next president,” he added.
Haley dismissed concerns about lack of energy around her campaign. While Haley ranked second among likely GOP caucusgoers, her supporters were not as enthusiastic as the supporters of DeSantis and Trump.
Among Trump supporters, 49 percent said they were “extremely enthusiastic,” while 23 percent of DeSantis supporters said they were “extremely enthusiastic” about their candidate; only 9 percent of Haley’s supporters said they were “extremely enthusiastic.”
“I’m not worried. Look, I’m not a political pollster. I’m not going to worry about the numbers. What I am going to say is, the momentum and the energy on the ground is strong. We feel it. We know that this is moving in the right direction,” Haley told Bream. “And to me, the only numbers that matter are ones that were going up and everybody else went down. That shows that we’re doing the right thing.”
“We’re just excited that tomorrow is the day. It’s go time, and we’re going to keep crisscrossing the state. We’ve done that for days now. We’re going to keep doing it, and I think the intensity will show tomorrow,” she said.