Donald Trump – 51.4%
The former President is hoping to reclaim the White House for a second term, becoming the first ever to do so non-consecutively. Trump’s political durability is astonishing- despite being impeached twice and facing multiple criminal charges, his popularity amongst GOP voters has continued to rise. If re-elected, he has promised to overhaul the Federal government, tackle voting fraud, and continue his hardline immigration stance. However, Trump’s campaign is more focused on embracing what he calls the “witch hunt” against him. If he continues to use the fighting of criminal charges to his advantage, playing them off with the eccentric authority that his loyal fanbase adores, he will keep them firmly on his side- and this should be enough to get him across the line.
In refusing to participate in the debate, many called Trump as the winner. His absence dominated media coverage, and as he continued to divide fellow contenders, without speaking a word he managed to overshadow the debate. This is definitely Donald Trump’s to lose, but there is a long way to go
Without speaking a word [Trump] managed to overshadow the debate
Ron DeSantis – 14.5%
DeSantis has positioned himself as a less scandalous and more electable Donald Trump, promising to build upon the Trump administration’s 2010-Republican style policies. His defiance on education and immigration is notable from his time as Governor of Florida, the state he claims in which “woke goes to die.” A Harvard Law Graduate and former Naval officer, he rose to national fame during the pandemic, in which his relaxed attitudes to lockdowns and mask mandates in Florida led the way for the reopening of the rest of the country. Despite originally being considered a genuine challenger to Trump he has dropped off significantly in recent polling, as it seems many Republicans simply view him as a bad campaigner who lacks the charisma and firmness of the former President.
Vivek Ramaswamy – 8.7%
The Tech entrepreneur and first-time candidate burst onto the scene at the GOP debate, positioning himself not as an opponent to Donald Trump, but rather as a successor, hailing him as the “best US President of the 21st century.” In a largely self-funded campaign so far, the 38-year-old has promised to tackle governmental corruption and “woke” ideology, claiming the US is currently in a “national identity crisis.” During the debate he dominated the field with his charisma and assumed the role of Trump in the 2016 GOP debates- deflecting attention away from his inexperience Whilst unlikely to win the nomination, Ramaswamy said he would not consider a place on Trump’s ticket as VP, but things move fast in politics and if he does not make the final two, he could find himself at least contemplating it.
Nikki Haley – 5.9%
The former South Carolina governor is the only woman in this contest. Having served under Donald Trump as UN ambassador, Haley has stayed clear of openly attacking the former President but has admitted the GOP need to leave him behind and bring in a “new generation of leadership,” Her strong foreign policy experience sets her apart from many other candidates and her campaign focuses on this, as well as tackling rising national debt and securing the Southern Border. Despite rising slightly in the polls after the first debate, in which she fought with Pence over abortion bans and Ramaswamy on aid to Ukraine, Haley is still quite a way behind. An outsider to win, but definitely not to be ignored.
Mike Pence – 4.2%
Whilst praising the achievements of his administration (serving as VP under Donald Trump), Pence has distanced himself from his former boss after his reaction to the 2020 election defeat, which of course included the inciting of the Capitol Riot. Pence says Trump “should never” be President again. An evangelical Christian and a traditional conservative, the former VP is the strongest against Abortion and Transgender rights in the field. During the debate, his anti-abortion record and defiance of Trump on January 6 was praised by other candidates. However, he is hugely unpopular with the Trump fanbase and considering this is a very large portion of the Republican Party, Pence really is an outsider in this contest.
Pence says Trump “should never” be President again
The Rest of the Field
Elsewhere in the debate, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, the only Black candidate in the race, struggled to make an impact, with many noting his hesitance to weigh in on big issues. If Trump wins the nomination, Scott is one to watch as a potential running mate. Meanwhile, Former New Jersey governor and ardent Trump critic Chris Christie’s scathing attacks on the former President were met with boos from the audience. His campaign hinges on turning Trump’s fanbase against him. This will be a tough ask. The candidates continue to campaign as the next primary debate approaches on September 27, in California.
All polling statistics are averages accurate as of September 1, and courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.com.