May 2022 Presidential Power Rankings
Has the race entered stasis until December?
Welcome to the latest installment of The Duckpin Republican Presidential Power Rankings. These rankings will list, in my estimation, the contenders for the Republican nomination for President on a 1-10 scale. This list will be updated every month; maybe more once we get to late 2023.
The rankings are a combination of polls, data, political environment, and gut feelings. It is not necessarily a ranking in order of who I think should be the Republican nominee, but who is best positioned to win the nomination at that time. Think of it as a snapshot in time. And we know what happens over time; one day you’re the flavor of the week, the next you’re yesterday’s news. Just ask Kristi Noem.
I’m starting to think we won’t see a whole lot more movement in these rankings until after the general election in November. Then, the rubber will really begin to meet the road.
#10. Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) (Previous: 10)
After a year off the list, Tom Cotton is back. Cotton is one of the few people who helped themselves in the wake of the January 6th attempted coup. He retreated from his position on supporting the silly claims of election fraud and has tried to turn the corner on his obsequious Trumpism. However, he remains enough of a Trump supporter that he hasn’t completely alienated Trump’s base. His legislative record and his military service will go far if he decides to run, though his small voting base in Arkansas could hurt him. He’s also showing up in Iowa and New Hampshire and other 2024 early primary locations. That’s a clue.
#9. Governor Chris Sununu (NH) (Previous: NR)
I doubt that Chris Sununu has a path to victory if he were to run for President. I doubt that Chris Sununu even will run for President. But there are more than a few facts about Sununu that makes him a formidable candidate were he to run; he is very popular in his home state (home to the first-in-the-nation primary) he has a strong record as an executive, and the Trump machine so far cannot touch him. That and the contacts built up by Sununu and his father, former Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, makes him a very tough out were he to make the leap.
#8: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (KS) (Previous: 8)
Pompeo had a bit of a moment last year at CPAC and there’s a bit of a buzz around Pompeo at the moment. He won 3rd place at the CPAC straw poll (which only netted him 2% support). Pompeo’s problem, other than the obvious connection to Trump, is his general lack of a political base. Being elected as a member of Congress from Kansas is hardly a wide political base from which to launch a presidential bid. Pompeo, of course, is boosted by his service as Director of the CIA and as Secretary of State. Pompeo may run, and originally it was hard to imagine him becoming the nominee. But Pompeo is already in Iowa and making a compelling case regarding protecting the Republican win in the Iowa 2nd District. His work with Donald Trump and the surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban is going to do him no favors.
#7: Sen. Tim Scott (SC) (Previous: 7)
No person helped himself more this spring than Sen. Tim Scott did with his rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress. The speech didn’t even help his much as the wild Democratic overreaction to it did, particularly with all of the disgusting racist comments Democrats directed at Scott. Scott raised his profile, both within the GOP and nationally writ-large, with his speech. It is uncertain if he plans to run in 2024, particularly with Nikki Haley thinking about it, but it bears watching; especially true considering he is now raking in boatloads of fundraising dollars. He fell on this list because he inexplicably is just another Republican willing to step aside for Trump.
#6: Ex-Vice President Mike Pence (IN) (Previous: 6)
Pence’s profile in this race is similar to that of Joe Biden when he ran in 2020. Arguable, Pence is the most qualified candidate in the field: he’s been a small business owner, a Congressman, a Governor, and of course Vice-President. That last part of course is what will trip him up. In a primary election, Pence will be hampered by the Trumpiest part of the Republican base that is mad because Pence didn’t violate the law, the Constitution, and common sense and unilaterally throw out the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. Pence has moved on up the charts, however, because he’s making moves to position himself for 2024, including heading to South Carolina later this month to give a speech before the Palmetto Family Council.
One thing, though, that does show the problems that Pence has with the pro-Trump elements if the party is his perceived “disloyalty” to Trump for not going allow with the attempted Trump coup of January 6th, for which he was booed at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference. But a recent donors retreat shows that Pence remains serious. We’ll see what the long-tail of Trump admitting that he was unable to execute a coup because Pence stood up to him.
#5: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (VA) (Previous: 5)
He took office with guns blazing, and conservative voters are taking notice. Youngkin seems to have somewhat cracked the code as to how to appeal to Trump voters without alienating non-Trump voters or bending the knee to Trump. It’s a helluva tightrope to walk, but it’s a model a lot of Republicans will be looking to emulate next year. His ability to do that, his already existing national profile, his personal wealth, and a lot of the national media living in his state is going to give him a chance to continue to raise his profile. If he wants to be President, this might be is best chance.
#4: Former Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) (Previous: 4)
There is no question now with Christie; he’s running for President and running hard. Christie recently said “I’m also not going to be one of these people who’s going to say, ‘Well, I’ll wait to see what President Trump’s going to do.’ You know, I’m not going to defer to anyone if I decide that it’s what I want to do, and that I think I’m the best option for the party and for the country.” He even says waiting for Trump is disqualifying. Christie missed his best shot to run in 2012, and the shine was gone by the time he actually ran in 2016. I struggle to see what constituency he appeals to if he runs in 2024, Trump or no Trump, no matter how much he tries to out-Trump Trump. However, he has a book now: Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden. His recent appearance on the Ruthless podcast made a lot of waves. All this tells us that he’s certainly running but as an anti-Trump, not Trump-like, candidate.
#3: Gov. Larry Hogan (MD) (Previous: 3)
The man is running for President and his obvious choice not to run for Senate helped confirm that in my mind. No potential candidate was hurt more by the fall of Donald Trump than Hogan. If Trump remains a viable 2024 contender, this race may very well have down to a mano-a-mano showdown between Trump and Hogan, one of the loudest Trump critics in the Republican Party. Hogan has shown great political instincts in being elected Governor of Maryland. His challenge is going to be to convince Republican primary voters that he is conservative enough; he’s more conservative than most (even many Maryland Republicans) give him credit for, but when the primary voters make the (laughable) decision that conservatism means fealty to Trump, that creates complications for a run. However, Trump’s re-emergence makes things just a little easier, especially if other Trumpier candidates take a pass at the race. He’s getting a lot of press regardless of what he decides to do and a recent story in Politico made it clear that he is leaning toward a 2024 run for President. What will not help is Hogan’s comments last month on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill in Florida, which Hogan acknowledged he made without reading the bill.
#2: Ex-President Donald Trump (FL) (Previous: 3)
The end is near. Or it should be after Trump admitted that he wanted Pence to overturn the election results.
And yet he still got 59% of the support in the CPAC straw poll because it’s a stupid time to be alive. Republicans in Congress are still bending the knee to this leftist pretender. However, fewer Republicans every day are supporting Trump. Trump casually admitting that he wanted Pence to help him execute a coup d’etat will do that. Between this and his insane comments from over the weekend about pardoning the January 6th traitors, I think that voters are finally realizing what kind of disaster renominating Trump would be. I ultimately think that Trump will not run, but he is certainly making a lot of noise about it, and starting up rallies again shows that he is gearing up to do it all again. He can still draw a crowd even if he still can’t get over the fact that he lost the 2020 Election. Biden’s failures as President give even more credence, no matter how wrong, that Trump is the “rightful” President.
#1: Gov. Ron DeSantis (FL) (Previous: 1)
In a poll that includes Trump, DeSantis getting 29% is a major statement. Have you seen the recent national media coverage directed at DeSantis recently? He has all of a sudden become public enemy #1 among the liberal intelligentsia. All that’s doing is improving DeSantis’ credibility among conservative voters. Previously it looked like the combination of the toxic stews that make up the Trumpist GOP had caught up to DeSantis. But the media might be making it back up for him. The overall loyalty to Trump, and the bonkers idea that DeSantis is a “conservative turncoat” for encouraging people to get the vaccine finally come together to knock him off of the top perch. It makes no sense, like many things in the modern GOP, but the truth at this moment is undeniable. He’s still going to run, mind you. He may say that he isn’t running now (perhaps as he prepares to run for re-election next year), but I won’t believe he isn’t in until we get past mid-2023 without an announcement. His only problem may be that he is peaking too soon. Let’s just say it’s not a coincidence that he is hiring top staff. The problem DeSantis is going to have? Trump’s going to turn his fire on him at some point; it’s only a matter of when. And that when may be coming soon. The only question is how the fallout of the boneheaded decision to punish Disney plays out.
Dropping Out: Will Hurd (#9)