On 2/16/2021, The Hill reported that a Republican-consultant named Alex Castellanos said that former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was the most likely to be the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination:
“I think Nikki Haley is the front-runner and it’s going to be very hard to stop her,” Castellanos told OZY co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson. “I think she’s underestimated.”
In a clip from “The Carlos Watson Show” provided exclusively to The Hill, Castellanos went on to say that “politicians in Washington” dismiss the former South Carolina governor as “not really a heavyweight candidate” but that “she’s the real deal” and “the horse to beat.”
Now this one guy’s opinion doesn’t really mean much, and I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Haley 2024 is a sure thing just because this guy says so. However, I’ve noticed many people have dismissed Haley entirely and, while I do not think she’s the most Republican to get the nomination, I do believe that doing that is a mistake.
In the past, I’ve said that I believe the two most likely Republicans to get the nominations are Ron DeSantis and Josh Hawley — but that’s assuming the primary was held today and both of them ran. That’s also ignoring one major possibility — another face nobody has thought of will run for President and blow everyone away. This is not impossible, in fact, it seems to be the rule rather than the exception.
Of the last five Presidents, all of them were thought to have “no chance” by the media and the general population. Bill Clinton was a draft-dodging womanizer running against a well-liked war President, George W. Bush was seen as an idiotic religious right ideologue with no chance who could barely string a coherent sentence together, Barack Hussien Obama was an inexperienced first-term Senator with a foreign-sounding name who would lose to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was an idiot racist failed businessman with no chance, and Joe Biden was a gaffe-prone old man who had failed massively in every primary before South Carolina. In 2008, everyone in the media thought the Democratic nomination would go to Hillary Clinton. In 2016, everyone thought the Republican nomination would go to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush. In both cases, the mainstream media was proven completely wrong as the unexpected candidate built his base and won the election.
I personally did not expect Joe Biden to catch up from his failure in the early primaries, nor did I expect Donald Trump to go anywhere in the 2016 primary, nor the 2016 general election — yet both have now been Presidents of the United States. Mind you, I was also one of the first voices saying the primary would be between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, as those were the two candidates that consistently polled the best.
It seems behind every President for the past century was someone saying they have “no chance.” Joseph Kennedy, the father of John F. Kennedy, said the following when he heard his son was running for President:
He won’t have a chance. I hate to see him and Bobby work themselves to death and lose.
It was feared during the Democratic Primary that widespread anti-Catholic bigotry would cause Kennedy to be unable to win. However, Kennedy proved them wrong as he defeated his fellow liberal Senator Hubert Humphrey (who later became Vice-President for Lyndon Johnson) in the primary and Richard Nixon in the general.
The man he ran against, Vice President Richard Nixon, was considered to be “done” at several points during his career. Rather it be after the infamous Checkers speech in 1952, his failed Presidental run in 1960 against John F. Kennedy, and his failed run for governor of California in 1962 against Pat Brown. When he ran in 1968, it was widely expected that he’d lose to either Nelson Rockafeller, George Romney, or Ronald Reagan, but Nixon proved them all wrong and won all but primaries and the general.
While I could go on for hours about Presidential runs everyone thought would fail but didn’t, I have one more example that perfectly sums up how futile of a game this is. Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, the only President to be elected to four terms, could read this in The New York Times, the newspaper of his home state, just before the 1932 Presidential Election:
The re-election of President Hoover with at least 270 votes in the electoral college, four in excess of a majority, is predicted in a statistical study of vote percentage in several states, based on a poll taken by the Hearst publications.
If not even the most elected President in US history could be predicted as such a few days before he was first elected, I highly doubt we can predict who will be the next President four years out.