A survey of the Republican presidential primary

Republican primary – Former South Carolina Governer Nikki Haley speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2023 Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, October 28, 2023 – Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. presidency is considered the highest office in our country. The president is the leader and the face of the United States and is democratically elected every four years.

In America, two political parties dominate the political landscape: the Democrats and the Republicans (also called the GOP, or Grand Old Party). Currently, Democrat Joe Biden holds the office of President and is seeking reelection in 2024. However, he will be challenged by one of many Republican presidential candidates, along with a few independent candidates in the mix.

The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination is by far Former President Donald J. Trump. Trump was president from 2017 to 2021, and he lost reelection to Biden in 2020. 

Trump has been a controversial figure for his entire time in politics. From his 2016 campaign to his presidency to his post-presidency election denial to his run for the White House in 2024, controversy has followed him.

Trump currently leads polls for the GOP nomination by as much as 45 points out of 100, with about 60% of the party considering him their first choice. The website FiveThirtyEight posts polls done by reliable institutions such as The Economist and The Messenger, and their results affirm this. In general election polls, Trump is neck-and-neck with Biden for the presidency. This is not surprising, as both candidates have approval ratings sitting at around 40%, an underwhelming number.

Through both Republican presidential debates this year, Trump has been missing. He also plans to skip the third one on November 8. He has been counterprogramming these debates, as he has opted to do an interview with former FOX News commentator Tucker Carlson and host a rally for Michigan auto workers.

The former president is currently facing four criminal indictments. Whether he is guilty of these things or not is up to the courts to decide. However, one thing is certain: Trump will be the nominee for the Republican party unless something happens to him, such as if he is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison.

So who would take his spot if he were to be convicted? Well, the clear frontrunner in that case is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Although an ally of Trump for most of his career, the two have been competing for the GOP nomination.

When DeSantis first announced his campaign, he was only 10 to 15 points behind Trump. However, he lost support throughout his campaign, and it is not quite clear why. However, in polls not involving Trump, DeSantis consistently leads by 15 to 20 points.

DeSantis is a popular governor in Florida, as he won reelection in 2022 with 60% of the popular vote. However, that popularity hasn’t stayed consistent throughout the country, as his approval ratings sit below Trump’s at 35%. DeSantis is behind Biden in many popular vote polls, but he is also beating Biden in many swing states such as Nevada and Wisconsin, places where Trump has not been able to drum up much support.

Many people attribute DeSantis’s low approval rating to his very conservative policies. In his fight against what he calls “woke ideology,” he has enacted several policies such as Don’t Say Gay (banning any LGBTQ+ topics being covered in the elementary school curriculum), banning the AP African American Studies curriculum, and enacting a strict six-week abortion ban.

Even though some of [DeSantis’s] policies may be extreme, he is fighting for what he believes in. The simple fact is that he has made Florida a better state, and he is a president that I would be excited for.

JOseph kahana ’26

Fourth Former Joseph Kahana said, “Even though some of [DeSantis’s] policies may be extreme, he is fighting for what he believes in. The simple fact is that he has made Florida a better state, and he is a president that I would be excited for.”

Another possible reason for DeSantis’s dropping support and low approval ratings is his poor performance at the two debates this year. In the first debate, he had no speaking time and was outshined by many other candidates. In the second debate, he made a bit more of a splash but still lost to other candidates.

In 2016, Trump joined the field of politics as an outsider. He challenged the status quo and had plenty of new ideas. Entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy draws a similar comparison for this election.

Ramaswamy is a 38-year-old business magnate who made a fortune in pharmaceuticals. After the unjust and tragic death of George Floyd, Ramaswamy felt he was too pressured to make a statement declaring his unwavering support for the BLM community. 

He stepped down as CEO of his company Roivant Sciences and went on to write a book titled Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam. This book delved into how he thought companies were embracing far-left or what he called “radically woke” ideas. 

He also started an investment firm called Strive, which aims to remove the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score from whether companies receive money or not, as he considers ESG a way to measure wokeness within a company.

The biotech magnate declared his run for president with an initiative to lead a “national cultural revival,” in which he has suggested shutting down numerous departments in the government, raising the voting age to 25, and severely restricting LGBTQ+ rights.

Ramaswamy became a national figure after the first Republican primary debate. He was by far the candidate who spoke the most, and he looked like the winner of the debate at the start. Plenty of voters saw a fresh face, similar to what people saw with Trump in 2016.

However, his poll numbers dropped from 10% to almost 5%, as many voters saw a far-right lunatic when he suggested things such as giving Ukraine to Russia and that climate change wasn’t real. In addition, his poll numbers against Biden have been horrible, as it is projected that he would lose the red state of Texas and his home state of Ohio.

Nikki Haley has been seen by many as the person who could revive a traditional Ronald Reagan-era GOP. The former governor of South Carolina and U.N. ambassador has taken mild conservative stances on many issues, such as abortion and the Southern border.

Although being considered an afterthought for most of the presidential election, her performances at the debates propelled her into a clear third-place position in the Republican primary, behind Trump and DeSantis.

In debates, Haley firmly expressed that the United States needs to be a moderately conservative country, similar to what Former President Ronald Reagan suggested back in the 80s. This stance has propelled her in polls and has led to many voters calling her the winner of both debates.

A worrisome thing for the Haley campaign is that even in polls without Trump, she still sits in third place, behind DeSantis and Ramaswamy. However, she is in second place in the key early primary of New Hampshire, and polls show that she will win that state if Trump is not in the race.

Currently, Haley is in an interesting spot when it comes to polls against Biden. She is beating Biden in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, but is losing to him in solid red/leaning red states such as Texas and Ohio.

The last candidate with any chance at the presidency is former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Christie has positioned himself as the “anti-Trump” of this race, and he has taken every chance he has had to bash the former president.

It wasn’t always like this. Although Christie ran against Trump for the presidency in 2016, he still seemed like a Trump ally.

It wasn’t always like this. Although Christie ran against Trump for the presidency in 2016, he still seemed like a Trump ally. After dropping out, he quickly endorsed Trump. Christie looked like the frontrunner to be Trump’s running mate in the general election, but Mike Pence was chosen for the job.

There are two narratives as to why Christie turned on Trump. The first is the one that Christie affirms, which is that he thought that Trump was a sore loser and an insurrectionist after denying the 2020 election loss to Biden.

The other is that he is running a revenge campaign against Trump after Christie was not even chosen to be one of Trump’s advisors or cabinet members. The fact is that it is likely a combination of both as to why Christie is so anti-Trump in this election.

Christie served two terms as a conservative governor of liberal New Jersey. He is overall a very popular candidate within the liberal base, with about 20% of Democrats approving of him. His problem is that only about 20% of Republicans approve of him. These are according to polls done by Morning Consult. This has led to him being decimated by Biden in the few polls that have been conducted comparing the two.

There are also other candidates, such as Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, but it looks like they will be dropping out soon, similar to Former Vice President Mike Pence and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

A Haverford student should care about this race. Every American should care about their government, and there is a close to 50% chance that one of these people will be the next leader of the government. Every Haverford student should educate themselves on the candidates so that they are understood if they win the presidency.