Each day it seems that another Republican candidate announces their 2024 bid. On Wednesday, we heard former Vice President Mike Pence announce his presidential run. A day before Tuesday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his run. The Republican field is becoming more reminiscent of 2016 with each candidate's announcement.
Back in 2016, before the primary debates, Donald Trump was not very popular. He built his popularity in the debates, lambasting other candidates. He used a strategy no one knew was allowed; Trump knocked out one candidate after the other calling them nicknames like "Little Marco" and "Low Energy Jeb". Why were voters drawn to this? Whether you love or hate Trump, you cannot deny he was raw. It was that attitude that disgruntled voters were drawn to. Many Americans did not want to elect another suit. It was a brick through the window, for better or worse.
This time Trump will be coming in as the front-runner. The Republican field filling up with so many candidates is a scenario that has been favorable to Trump in the past. Although this time around, Trump will have to explain his way through a barrage of questions that will inevitably come regarding January 6th and his many other controversies.
Who else is running?
Ron Desantis is currently seen as Trump's biggest competitor. His popularity has skyrocketed under the Biden administration with his decisions as Governor of Florida. Governor Desantis took a strong stance on COVID-19, refusing to shut down his state, which brought him popularity and controversy.
Desantis is seen by many as a more disciplined version of Trump. He will compete for the same voting base that Trump has, which may make for an exciting race. To this point, Desantis has had an easy target among Republican voters, with President Biden as his enemy and focus. It is unclear how Desantis will perform when he has to turn the heat toward his fellow Republicans. If Ron Desantis fails, it's difficult to know what his future political career will look like. When looking at candidates from the 2016 election, Trump left scars on the candidates he went up against.
Chris Christie announced his 2024 bid with an attack on former President Donald Trump. Christie was among the few candidates to exit the 2016 primaries reasonably unscathed. The former New Jersey Governor said his mission was to "take out" Trump. Christie's clear focus will be a repudiation of Trump. Christie is known for being a direct speaker and a fiery debater. He was once a rising star in the republican party but has faded since 2016. His strategy of going head-on against Trump may also be his downfall. If Christie offends the Trump base too much, he may also be squashing any chance at the White House he has.
Former Vice President Mike Pence kicked off his campaign with an announcement that did not step on anyone's toes. Pence and Trump's split happened following January 6th. Pence has not vocalized any severe opposition to his former running mate. The most significant advantage Pence has is his appeal to evangelical voters. Pence's biggest weakness is his lack of identity. Everyone knows him as Trump's Vice President, but Pence failed to build any name for himself during his four years in office. We are in an age where vanilla and boring candidates do not make it far.
Niki Haley was the first to announce. This former South Carolina Governor and former Ambassador to the U.N. is a fresh face for the republican party. Her path to victory would have to include her winning her home state of South Carolina, the third state in the primaries. Although her candidacy is a longshot in many respects, she is the only female candidate running, which should help her stay in the conversation. Her record of flip-flopping on major issues may bite her as her campaign becomes more serious.
What Could Happen?
When looking at how potential candidates affect the economy, it is tough to predict. When President Trump won, many expected a crash because of the uncertainty, but the opposite happened due to the expectation of tax cuts. Most Republican candidates are relatively similar in their tax policies, so it seems the mood after a Republican victory would be similar. Endless moving parts affect how the market reacts to a candidate. For example, COVID-19 during the 2020 election wasn't something we all expected. How will these candidates affect the market if they win? This is a question that cannot be answered until we move closer to 2024 and the future unfolds.
The rest of the Republican field is a mixed bag of anti-Trump candidates and people attempting to build a name for themselves. Although these candidates are not as well known, no one should be written off, especially when we are more than a year from the election. If things were to kick off today, Desantis and Trump would be the two front-runners. The likely scenario is that every other candidate would be burnt by the firestorm that Trump and Desantis would be engaged in. With these two huge personalities, there is little room for anyone else in the conversation. Only time will tell.