Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Sunday that a new CNN poll showing her as the only GOP contender with a clear lead over President Joe Biden in a hypothetical general election match-up signals America’s yearning for a new leader.
“Well, I think the reason that it shows that I would beat Biden by 6 points is simple. I think the majority of Americans know we need a new generational leader, that we need to leave the negativity of the past behind us,” the former South Carolina governor told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
The need for a new generation of leadership has been an integral part of Haley’s campaign message. She has taken aim at Biden for his age and has often called for mental competency tests for politicians over 75 since launching her campaign in February.
“The majority of Americans don’t want to see a rematch between Trump and Biden. That’s been very clear. And the majority of Americans think that we need to go with younger faces, younger voices, and we have got some work to do. They’re tired of working for government. They want government to work for them,” said Haley, who also served for two years as US ambassador to the United Nations under then-President Donald Trump.
The CNN poll, which was released on Thursday, showed Haley leading with 49% to Biden’s 43% in a hypothetical match between the two. That lead stemmed from broader support for Haley than for other Republicans among White voters with college degrees. (Haley is favored by 51% of that group, compared with 48% or less for other Republican candidates included in the poll.)
Positioning herself as an opponent against Biden, Haley said that she expects the GOP primary field to start shrinking.
“And so I’m comfortable with the process taking place the way that it is. And I think that the American people will start to kind of force this on their own and we will end up with the right nominee,” she said. “I expect to be that nominee. I expect to be the president. And I expect to get our country back on track.”
Despite the hypothetical lead over Biden, Haley, like most other GOP presidential contenders, lags far behind Trump in support among Republican voters.
Asked if the GOP can credibly claim to be the party of law and order with a nominee who is facing 91 felony counts, referring to Trump, Haley said, “Let’s see what happens.”
“You are not convicted until you’ve had the opportunity to defend yourself … and if he is convicted, then the American people will deal with it then,” Haley said of her former boss.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from August 25-31 among a random national sample of 1,503 adults drawn from a probability-based panel, including 1,259 registered voters and 391 Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters. The survey included an oversample to reach a total of 898 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; this group was weighted to its proper size within the population. Surveys were either conducted online or by telephone with a live interviewer. Results among the full sample had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 points; among registered voters, the margin of sampling error was 3.6 points. It was 6.0 for Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters.