Here’s How Much Money Outside Groups Burned Boosting Nikki Haley’s Failed Presidential Campaign

Advocacy groups spent $85.2 million supporting Nikki Haley’s presidential bid, resulting in the former South Carolina governor winning just 89 of the 2,429 delegates available in the Republican presidential primary before she dropped out Wednesday.

Outside groups supporting Haley, chief among them the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity Action and the pro-Haley SFA Fund, alongside the Haley campaign itself collectively spent nearly $120 million this election cycle, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show. Each of the 89 delegates Haley had won as of Wednesday cost her and her supporters an average of about $1.3 million, more than three times the median price of a home in the United States.

The bulk of the outside support for Haley’s campaign came during early, high-stakes primary elections.

In Iowa, the first state to hold a primary election, pro-Haley groups spent $40 million supporting her campaign, according to FEC records, only for her to place third. Outside groups spent a further $31 million supporting her in New Hampshire and $8 million boosting Haley in South Carolina, only for her to lose both states’ primaries by double digits.

Outside financial support for Haley had largely dried up by the time Super Tuesday, the biggest day in the Republican primary, rolled around. Across the 15 states holding GOP primary elections on Tuesday, outside groups only spent about $884,000 supporting Haley.

The money poured into supporting Haley by third-party groups funded a variety of operations, FEC records show. Outside groups paid for pro-Haley advertisements, canvassed on her behalf, produced pro-Haley media and engaged in get-out-the-vote efforts intended to help Haley.

Just two groups comprised the majority of the outside money spent to support Haley.

SFA Fund, the primary super PAC boosting Haley, paid out more than $51.5 million in expenditures trying to get her campaign off the ground, FEC records show.

SFA Fund has not posted to social media since Haley suspended her campaign on Wednesday.

Americans For Prosperity Action, meanwhile, spent more than $31.2 million boosting the former South Carolina governor, according to FEC records. The super PAC suspended its financial support for Haley after her loss in the Feb. 24 South Carolina primary, saying in an internal memo that it did not believe “any outside group can make a material difference to widen her path to victory.”

Defending Democracy Together, which FEC records indicate spent over $857,000 boosting Haley across states like Georgia, New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona and South Carolina, among others, is itself backed by more than $10 million in donations from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Democrat-aligned dark money group. Defending Democracy Together was co-founded by ex-Republican Bill Kristol.

Republican Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin told a local news outlet on Thursday that Haley “took it too far” with her presidential run.

“She probably should have got out when she lost her own state,” Mullin said.

“I could understand why she stayed there for that, but the fact that she just stayed there and kept going after our nominee for the Republican party to be the next president of the United States, Donald Trump, it was a waste of money.”

A spokesperson for the Haley campaign told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they believe all the money spent boosting Haley went to good use.

Americans For Prosperity Action, Defending Democracy Together and SFA Fund did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

Robert Schmadon March 7, 2024

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