We are less than 120 days away from the 2022 midterm elections, nevertheless, the media, political analysts, and pundits are interestingly talking about the 2024 presidential contest. In a normal election year, the incumbent president would exhaust their use of the bully pulpit, even in the face of an average 24-seat loss historically. But President Biden is nowhere to be found, giving Republicans an even greater opportunity to flip control of Congress with momentum headed into 2024. That makes calls for President Biden to step aside all the more plausible. However, all eyes are rightfully on the 2024 Republican Party primary given the strong bench of conservative contenders. So of the 2024 hopefuls, which Republicans are leading the pack? Let’s take a look.
History would lend that the vice president of the party that lost reelection would be the automatic frontrunner. Vice President Mike Pence is looking more and more likely to announce a campaign for Commander in Chief. Since leaving the Oval Office, Pence has visited Iowa, the first in the nation caucus, three times, twice in 2021 and this past April as he endorsed a slew of candidates throughout the Hawkeye State. However, his approval rating remains in unfavorable territory as Real Clear Politics average of recent polls taken in June finds Pence with a 38% favorable to 49% unfavorable rating among registered voters and his apparent rift with President Trump could hurt him if not carefully repaired.
In addition to Pence, other former Trump administration officials are also eyeing the White House. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is often mentioned given his success overseas with the elimination of ISIS from Iraq and Syria, and the Abraham Accords that brought Muslim nations to the table with Israel and the U.S. and reached peace agreements, something that has evaded presidents of both parties for over thirty years. Nikki Haley is another cabinet official making headlines and has been friendly to her former boss Trump.
A number of members of Congress including Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) the latter who battled deep into the primary in 2016 are likely to throw their hats in the ring. Cruz has clearly shown he has the conservative bonafides to be a contender and is polling mid-pack.
President Trump clearly currently leads the Republican field, having won poll after poll when matched up with other Republicans. His share of the vote is more than twice any other likely candidate. A crowded field likely favors Trump, with no other candidate able to consolidate enough support to upend him. However, when Trump is not on the ballot, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is emerging as the party’s preferred alternative to Trump. Could there be some opportunity for the two to combine powers? Relations remain good between the two powerhouses as President Trump recently complimented DeSantis’s leadership in Florida.
A June 2022 Harris/Harvard University poll found that Governor DeSantis is the most popular Republican in America, with a +6 favorability rating among Republican registered voters. The same poll found that Trump leads the pack among GOP voters, garnering 56% support with DeSantis far behind with 16%. However, when Trump is not on the ballot, the same poll shows that Governor DeSantis is the “clear runner up” receiving 36% support followed by Vice President Pence with 17%.
The media will try again to portray the Republican primaries as a cannibalistic implosion of the party, rest assured. Hopefully Republicans will likely be wise enough to avoid giving Democrats ammunition for the general election as they battle it out in the primary. Meanwhile, Democrats, who should be lined up and ready to use their bully pulpit to their advantage, are now wondering if Sleepy Joe will even step up to the plate, and they are seemingly jockeying to be the viable replacement to Biden should he choose not to seek re-election in 2024. All the Republican hopefuls should be speaking to this fact publicly, while the party continues to line up a strong bench of presidential contenders offering a number of solid conservative choices for American voters.
Who is your preferred choice for 2024? Let us know in the comments below.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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