Who Will the Republican Party Choose for the 2024 Republican Candidate?

Examining the Past to Predict the 2024 Republican Candidate

As our nation looks to the 2024 Presidential election, an examination of the not-so-distant past can also give us an idea of how the upcoming election may play out. It is most important to understand the dynamics that led to Trump’s election so that we can best predict what the future holds in store.

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Who Could Beat President Trump for the Republican Nomination and Who Is Going to Try?

Recently I’ve read numerous articles from political pundits on the 2024 Presidential election. I’ve paid particular attention to the commentary on the Republican Primary and the ongoing discussion about who can beat President Trump. Then to top it off, both Governor Ron DeSantis and Vice-President Mike Pence visited Utah last week and shared with attendees their visions for the future of America. Both DeSantis and Pence seemed to be exploring running for President.

Looking to the Past to Predict the Future

All of this has caused me to ponder what is going to happen. What comes to mind is the old adage that “the best way to predict the future is to learn from the past.”

2016 Presidential Primary: Trump’s Unique Strengths

We begin by looking at the 2016 Presidential Primary. Donald J. Trump won in a crowded field with some unique strengths:

  • Strong Base of Support: Trump had a dedicated base of supporters who were extremely loyal to him. These supporters were attracted to his populist message with the promise to “Make America Great Again.” This phrase quickly went viral with millions purchasing and proudly donning “MAGA” hats and shirts.
  • Anti-Establishment Sentiment: There was a strong anti-establishment sentiment among Republican voters in 2016. Trump was able to tap into this by presenting himself as an outsider not beholden to the political establishment. His unique background and attitude toward politics resonated with many voters.
  • State-By-State Winner-Take-All Primary System: America’s primary system allows candidates to win delegates on a state-by-state basis. Trump was able to take advantage of this system with his relatively small, yet loyal base by focusing on winning a plurality of votes in the early primary states when there were many candidates. As more states selected delegates Trump remained a top contender because of his early accumulation of delegates.
  • Large Field of Candidates: The Republican primary field in 2016 was large and diverse with multiple candidates vying for the nomination. This worked to Trump’s advantage because the vote was split between multiple candidates. The more candidates, the easier it was for him to win primaries with a relatively small percentage of the vote.
  • Effective Campaign Strategy: Trump’s campaign was able to effectively use social media to reach voters and build support. Another way he gained attention was by putting on huge rallies in large venues which generated significant media coverage leading to increased visibility and appeal.
What Does the Future Hold?: President Trump’s Potential to Win the Republican Primary Again

President Trump still remains a popular and influential figure within the Republican party. His base of supporters, including many in positions of Party leadership, are known for their fierce loyalty to him.

From my vantage point, it looks as if 2024 could very well be a mirror image of 2016 for Republicans. As more candidates join the race, the possibility of splitting the vote increases. This would result in a repeat of the 2016 Primary and allow Trump to win with his loyal base, getting small plurality wins in early states and growing his support as candidates drop out. State-based winner-take-all plurality elections mean a minority of Republican primary voters will likely determine the winner.

Potential 2024 Republican Candidates

Mike Pence says he will decide if he will enter the race by spring, meaning in the next 45 days or so. DeSantis insiders say his exploratory committee will launch in mid-May. 

Politico rates Trump and DeSantis as the favorites, Nikki Haley and Mike Pence as contenders, then the following longshots as maybes: Larry Elder, Asa Hutchinson, Perry Johnson, Vivek Ramaswamy, Kristi Noem, Mike Rogers, Tim Scott, and Chris Sununu. If all or even most run, Trump wins.

Can the Outcome of the Republican Nomination be Different?

Is there any way that Trump could not receive the 2024 Republican nomination?  The only way to tell is to see how many candidates run and then follow the money. DeSantis seems to have the best chance with a war chest of $110 million to work with. No other competitor to Trump comes close. 

Some donors who consistently donate large amounts of money to Republicans have been vocal about joining together to find one candidate to beat Trump. DeSantis recently had a convincing re-election victory in Florida, which is a large, prominent battleground state. In the election, DeSantis was able to turn some long-time Democrat communities Republican.

Who Will Utah Choose?

After 86 Utah elected officials made a public plea for DeSantis to run in November 2022 and then he recently beat Trump in a State Delegate straw poll 54% – 29% it’s likely that DeSantis would win Utah should he remain in the race. If it’s down to two, DeSantis vs. Trump, then DeSantis has a real shot at winning.

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