Since President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election, speculation has swirled as to who might challenge him for the White House in 2024. Although we are more than three years away from this election, the stars are starting to align for some potential 2024 GOP challengers. Most notably is former President Donald Trump, who has indicated a strong interest in running for office for the third time. Also in the hunt are several notable Republicans including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and many others. So let’s examine the viability of each potential candidate as well as their probability to run.
The Real Contenders
All roads to the White House in 2024 for the GOP lead to or through Donald Trump. The former President has a kind of hold on the party not seen since the days of Ronald Reagan. His influence, ability to win federal elections, and presence in the current GOP are all-encompassing. So if 45 decides to run, it is a pretty safe bet to assume he would trounce any Republican opposition. In fact, a poll from Morning Consult in May determined that 50% of Republican voters would support Trump running in 2024. His next closest competition, former Vice President Mike Pence, stood at a lowly 13% in the poll. No other candidate broke double digits in the poll either. So it seems that Trump still has a firm grip on the party that has nominated him twice.
While Trump would be almost assured of victory should he decide to run in the primary, the GOP field really opens up if he does not. So would Mike Pence have a chance to hold the Republican mantle if Trump does not run? The answer is more complicated than first thought. Since the events of January 6 and the Electoral Certification occurring the same day, Pence’s potential candidacy has been damaged. This is due to his refusal to overturn the 2020 election or challenge the electoral results in any way. This has caused many Republican voters to now be strongly opposed to a potential Pence Presidential campaign.
While it can be easily argued that Pence himself should not be hurt politically for declining to do something that he was legally unable to do, the result still stands. Pence’s refusal to attempt to overturn the election likely means that he would have a much more difficult time in a Republican primary than he would of previously. However, he could still potentially be a top-tier contender with Trump out of the race. He would have to tie himself to Trump in every other facet of their union. Pence could also likely count on strong support from an evangelical base. After all, this is why Trump selected him as his running mate in the first place.
Another candidate thought to be right at the top of potential Republican candidates in 2024 is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. While he has not indicated definitively whether or not he would be interested in running in 2024, DeSantis has done everything short of that. In addition to being a strong ally of Trump, he has supported some of the most important issues to the current Republican Party.
This includes sending Florida police officers to the U.S.-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration. He also signed into law legislation to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. And he signed legislation that would fine tech companies if they banned political candidates from their platforms. All of DeSantis’ political maneuvering is not going unnoticed by Republicans either. In a recent straw poll conducted by the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, DeSantis actually narrowly beat Trump. He received a 74.12% approval rating while Trump came in just below at 71.43%.
They Have A Viable Candidacy
The next set of candidates are firmly in the conversation to run and even be the GOP nominee in 2024. First up would be former South Carolina Governor and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The first Indian-American to serve in a Presidential Cabinet, Haley has said she will not run if Trump does. So in a scenario without Trump, Haley could be a strong option to GOP voters looking for a candidate (mostly) aligned with Trump as well as one with an independent voice. Haley is still a firm Trump ally and would have a legitimate case to make as a woman of color in a Republican Party dominated by white men. Perhaps Nikki Haley would also be open to the Vice Presidency if a candidate such as DeSantis were to win.
Another middle-tier candidate for 2024 is Texas Senator Ted Cruz. After being the runner-up to Trump in 2016, Cruz has indicated that he may run for President again. Well with Biden in the White House, it seems that 2024 would be an opportune time for the Senator. He in fact had a strong grassroots movement in 2016, so perhaps it could be replicated for 2024. And Cruz has often come in the top three to five candidates in GOP primary polls for 2024. So the question is would Cruz run if Trump ran? The answer is likely yes, considering Cruz ran against Trump in 2016 and was the last man standing with him. He would also likely be able to count on strong evangelical and rural support for a potential presidential bid.
One other candidate who may have a legitimate chance in 2024 is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. With his conservative credentials and strong Trump support, a potential Pompeo campaign could make some noise. Those familiar with Pompeo’s 2024 intentions have said he will likely run irrespective of whether or not Trump does. In the Morning Consult Poll, Pompeo came in with just one percent of support, but he has been building up his resume for a potential run in 2024. Pompeo has also launched a political group aimed at the 2022 midterm elections with a keen eye on 2024. He has also toured key states, spoke at important events like CPAC, and built a low-key ground game. A Pompeo candidacy would certainly be viable in what could be a potentially wide-open GOP Primary.
Another name often seen at the top of GOP 2024 Primary field polls is Donald Trump Jr. The current Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization may be in play in 2024 if the older Trump decides not to run. He has plenty of conservative credentials, including being a visible force on television in support of his father’s agenda. In addition, he was a keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in 2020. He also started a SuperPac in an attempt to encourage Trump supporters to vote in the Georgia runoff elections. A Trump Jr. campaign would likely reflect that of his father, very outspoken and loyal in nature, but with a clear America First agenda.
The Rest of the Field
There are several dozen potential Republicans who may toil with the idea of running for President in 2024. Some include Tim Scott, currently the only African American Republican in the Senate. Also, fellow Senator Marco Rubio, who ran unsuccessfully for the White House in 2016, may run again. Both Scott and Rubio are compelling candidates due to their heritage and American success stories. Scott, in particular, is a visible force in combatting the Biden administration’s push for racial equity. Another candidate that may consider a 2024 run is South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. With Noem being a rising star in the Republican Party, 2024 could be a launching point for future campaigns. She would also likely be in the conversation for Vice President irrespective of what happens in the primary.
Other notable candidates that may run for the GOP in 2024 include current Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, and Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney. What all of these individuals have in common is that they are all moderate Republicans who have often criticized Trump. Would there be any appetite for these politicians in a current Republican Party so beholden to Trump? Well, it seems that it is possible to imagine at least some support for the old-style moderate Republicans. This is especially true considering that all three have the potential to garner substantial moderate support in a Presidential election. This is the same kind of support that helped propel Joe Biden to the White House in 2020.
Clearly, the Republican Presidential Primary field of 2024 has the potential to be intriguing. There is the perennial elephant in the room (Trump), several high profile Republicans including Pence, DeSantis, and Ted Cruz, as well as some moderates, namely Larry Hogan and Liz Cheney. Perhaps even some out-of-the-box candidates like Donald Trump Jr. could shake up the field. All in all, 2024 promises to mix loyalty to Trump, conservative values, and personal stories into a stew of interest. Only one candidate will be standing when it is all said and done, and if recent history has anything to say about it, it will likely be Trump.
Main Photo from Getty.