It may be one year, nine months and three days until the 2024 Presidential election – but it’s never too early to start making stabs in the dark. So, which five politicians have the best shot of becoming the Republican nominee in 2024? To be clear, I’m focusing on the Republicans because I remain confident that Biden will run again, unopposed, within the Democratic party. The Republicans – uniquely divided even by American standards – are a far more interesting playing field. Even if Biden doesn’t run, it is unlikely to play too big a role in who the Republican nominee is – it will only affect the picture of the General Election.
5. Glenn Youngkin
Political experience: Governor of Virginia (2022-present)
Youngkin may remain a relative novice in the world of politics after a long business career – but he’s got all the pieces lined up for a formidable run in 2024. He has managed to distance himself from the far-right beliefs of some Republicans while still holding Trump’s support. He also won Virginia – a Democratic state – in his 2021 Gubernatorial election, defying the general lack of success seen by Trump-endorsed candidates in recent years. That said, there is still a good chance he won’t run – he may choose to focus on serving Virginians in his new role, or maybe put his name in the ring for a Vice Presidential nomination. Even if he does run, he is still number five due to his lack of nationwide fame.
4. Larry Hogan
Political experience: Governor of Maryland (2015-2023); Chair of the National Governors Association (2019-2020); Vice Chair of the National Governors Association (2018-2019); Maryland Secretary of Appointments (2003-2007)
Hogan (my personal favourite of the five in this article) has become a figurehead for moderate Republicans in this era of Trumpism. He won the Maryland (a solid Democratic state) Gubernatorial election twice, and now has two years without an office, allowing him to focus on a campaign. 10 years ago, Hogan may very well have been number one on this list, but the reality is that the moderate wing of the Republican Party is just too small for him to garner enough support to win the primary.
3. Mike Pence
Political experience: Vice President of the US (2017-2021); Governor of Indiana (2013-2017); Chair of the House Republican Caucus (2009-2011); Member of the US House of Representatives (2001-2013)
Some may be surprised by this one, but Pence has expressed an interest in running and has the advantage of both being out of office currently and being a household name. Pence had a tumultuous end to his term as Vice President with his defiance of Trump’s bid to overturn the election, but that could also help him gain the support of conservative Republicans who, despite having similar beliefs, are anti-Trump. The main hindrance for Pence is that he will be attacked from both sides: far-right Republicans will oppose his handling of the 2020 election, while moderate candidates will oppose his starkly conservative social views.
2. Donald Trump
Political experience: President of the US (2017-2021)
Upon leaving office in 2021, it seemed inevitable that Trump (if not convicted by the Senate) would become the Republican nominee again in 2024. He dominated the 2021 and 2022 CPAC poll, which function as early indicators of who the leader of the Republican party is. He’s hit a few roadblocks in the past months, though, that may cost him the nomination. Not only are the number of active cases against him damaging, but the Republicans are seeking a change in leadership after the predicted red wave didn’t occur in the 2022 midterms. But, by merit of being Donald Trump, it’s not over for him until it’s over.
1. Ron DeSantis
Political experience: Governor of Florida (2019-present); Member of the US House of Representatives (2013-2018)
Ron DeSantis, I think, is going to be the Republican nominee in 2024. The story of Trump and DeSantis is disconcertingly like that of Frankenstein and his monster. Trump’s endorsement in the 2018 Florida Gubernatorial election gave DeSantis the fuel he needed to get the office, and now he’s become the number one alternative for conservative Republicans seeking a change. In the 2022 Midterms, where Republicans who religiously followed Trump struggled, DeSantis won Florida (one of the most competitive states in US politics) by 19 points – a margin greater than any analyst would have sensibly predicted. While Trump struggles, DeSantis is going from strength to strength and appears on track to defeat the undefeatable Donald Trump.
If Ron DeSantis were to become the nominee, that may spell the end of Biden’s administration. Americans are seeking a change after an economically challenging few years. Nonetheless, a DeSantis presidency may give fuel to the fire of the major conservative policies being pushed by the Supreme Court – his campaign certainly isn’t one I’d want to support.