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Republican Party Rankings: Republicans Most Likely to Be the Party’s Nominee for President in 2024


Former President Trump is already in the race. Other major contenders are openly considering bids. And speculation is swirling around big names who have so far been tight-lipped about their intentions, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The battle for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is guaranteed to be fierce. President Biden may have had a better midterm session than many expected, but his approval ratings remain tepid.

Biden is vulnerable if he runs for a second term. If he doesn’t, there will be no runaway front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

Either way, the 2024 GOP nominee certainly seems to have a solid shot at winning the White House.

Here are the people most likely to top the GOP ticket.

1. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

DeSantis had by far the best midterm results of any serious 2024 challenger, winning re-election by nearly 20 points in Florida, which was considered a battleground state, at least until recently.

His victory made a great case that his embrace of culture war issues and his opposition to the COVID-19 lockdowns paid off in the election.

DeSantis continued in that vein after his victory, calling on the Florida Supreme Court to form a grand jury to investigate “any wrongdoing” regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations.

The move was derided by critics as a blatant play on the anti-vax element of the GOP base. But that won’t bother DeSantis at all.

The Florida governor emerged from his campaign with about $90 million still in the bank in his accounts, and he also got some mega-donors to the Republican Party on his side.

DeSantis hasn’t provided many clues about his intentions for 2024; it is simply assumed that he is considering escape.

If he gets in, he’ll have plenty of assets — and some favorable tailwinds created by his main rival’s missteps.

2. Former President Trump

Trump would have been the runaway favorite if this ranking had been drawn up the day before the midterm elections.

Since then, almost everything the president has touched has gone bad.

Some of his most prominent supporters lost in the middle of the exams. He made a big casual mistake when he dined with two anti-Semites, Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and Nick Fuentes.

Trump’s campaign has been off to a weak start and has not been followed by any of the big rallies that the former president seems to draw energy from.

Trump waded into yet another seemingly pointless controversy in early December when he called for the “termination” of parts of the constitution — apparently to allow him to be reinstated or re-elected in 2020.

Although Trump is reduced, he cannot be counted at all.

Republican voters retain a strong positive impression of him, he can raise all the money he needs with ease and could be a big beneficiary of a field with multiple candidates given the loyalty of his hardcore following.

Trump’s allies say he is in a better position now than he was at the start of his 2016 campaign.

That’s true enough so far. But the former president appears more vulnerable even in the Republican primary than could have been predicted even a short time ago.

3. Senator Ted Cruz (Texas)

Cruz was Trump’s most serious challenger in 2016, and he would be a major player if he enters the race this time around.

He has been careful to keep the door open to that possibility, though a run for the White House would be complicated since he is also up for re-election to the Senate in 2024.

Cruz told reporters at a news conference in November after an appearance before the Republican Jewish Coalition that he was running for re-election to the upper house. But, he added, “there will be plenty of time to discuss the 2024 presidential election … there will be plenty of time for that.”

Cruz’s appeal will remain essentially unchanged from what he was in 2016: an ardent conservative willing to mingle with the media and attack Democrats with fiery words.

DeSantis’ newfound prominence greatly complicates the calculations for Cruz, who will have to both maneuver around Trump and prove that he is a better alternative than DeSantis.

4. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Haley has been among the most outspoken of the main contenders about her intentions.

She is considering a run for president, saying at an event at Clemson University in late November, “We’re taking the holidays to see what the situation is.”

She added: “If we decide to take it on, we’re going to put in 1,000 percent and finish it.”

Haley served Trump as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and previously served as South Carolina’s first female governor.

Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, will bring a very different sensibility to the top of the GOP ticket than was the case with Trump.

Whether she can win the trust of the party base, however, may be another matter.

5. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo, like Haley, has made no secret of the fact that he is considering a 2024 campaign.

In December he told Fox News Sunday that he and his family are “thinking our way through this,” adding that “we have to do this right for America.” He assumed he would make a decision by spring.

Pompeo carries foreign policy clout thanks to his time as the nation’s top diplomat and, before that, as director of the CIA.

As a Fox News contributor, he also has an enviable platform from which to reach Republicans.

But the question for Pompeo has always been whether there really is an electorate for him, even among the Republican primary electorate.

It is seriously doubtful that there are any significant numbers of passionate Pompeo supporters.

6. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin

Youngkin came from relative political obscurity to win the Virginia governorship in 2021.

His achievement won him instant fans among Republicans, not least because Biden had carried the state by about 10 points just a year earlier.

Youngkin’s strategy was also seen as offering an attractive model for Republicans across the country — he neither aligned himself with Trump nor directly rejected him. Instead, he reaped political dividends from making issues like education and “wokeness” central to his campaign.

Youngkin’s run for president would be intriguing, though his relative lack of political experience would be a problem.

7. Former Vice President Mike Pence

So strong was the belief that Pence would run for president that in late December news emerged that he had filed the necessary paperwork to run — until a spokesman clarified that the paperwork appeared to be a hoax.

Spokesman Devin O’Malley emphasized in a series of tweets that Pence had “said that if an announcement is to be made, it will [be] produced in 2023!”

Pence has distanced himself from Trump more than before, particularly in a series of interviews he gave to promote his recent memoir. At the same time, he proudly refers to the achievements of the “Trump-Pence administration.”

Whether Pence can successfully thread that needle in the GOP primary seems moot at best.

Several polls show he faces significant opposition among Republican voters — likely from Trump loyalists who blame him for not joining the clearly unconstitutional effort to nullify the 2020 election.

8. Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina)

Scott made it to the South Carolina election this fall and ended the campaign with more than $20 million still remaining, according to OpenSecrets.

The only black Republican senator, Scott is seen by his supporters as one of the best options for unifying the pro-Trump and Trump-skeptic wings of the Republican Party.

He has sometimes criticized the former president, but never unreservedly, and Trump has endorsed his re-election bid. At the same time, Scott is unabashedly conservative on everything from gun rights to health care.

Scott has also tried to reach across the aisle at times, working with Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) to try to enact some level of police reform. The effort ultimately failed.

Scott maintains a tight inner circle, and no one outside him seems quite sure whether he longs for the Oval Office.

Skeptics don’t think the fire is burning in him, but intriguing trips to the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire tell a different story.

9. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem

Noem, who clearly belongs to the MAGA wing of the party, could be an attractive choice for some pro-Trump voters, especially if the former president wavers seriously.

Noem has a fascinating personal story detailed in a recent memoir; a record of vigorous opposition to restrictions related to COVID-19; and a taste for the provocative – her staff gave her a flamethrower as a Christmas present this year.

Noem also beat out every other major contender to ban TikTok from state-owned devices amid security concerns recently. Many other governors followed her example on this matter.

Noem is a gifted communicator, though he’ll have to overcome a few bigger names if he wants to make a serious bid for the nomination.

10. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu

Sununu is one of the leading lights of the more moderate or opinionated wing of the Republican Party.

He won re-election handily in November, while a more extreme Trump-backed Senate candidate, Don Bolduc, was defeated in his home state.

Sununu is cut from a somewhat similar cloth to other Trump critics who appear to be considering runs, including Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

But most importantly, it is doubtful that any of these candidates will win the nomination in a party that is dominated by its more fiery, populist wing.


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