The 2024 presidential primary season has begun. Incumbent President Joe Biden is expected to cruise to a second Democratic nomination. The GOP contest, on the other hand, will be more contested. Former President Donald Trump has declared his candidacy but is expected to face a series of challenges including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, and former Vice President Mike Pence.
With the layout of each primary forming, voters’ attitudes are starting to become relevant.
Early polling data shows that voters have complicated feelings about their prospective nominees.
How do voters feel about the frontrunners?
At the moment, the GOP frontrunner is probably Donald Trump, who has earned two consecutive GOP nominations.
Trump retains the highest profile of any GOP candidate, although he is uniquely polarizing – as new polls indicate.
For example, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that only 44 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents want Trump to win the GOP nomination in 2024. So, a majority of Republicans would prefer a candidate other than Trump to win the election.
Biden, the unchallenged Democratic frontrunner, and presumptive nominee, also faces limited support from within his own party.
According to the Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 31 percent of Democrats want Biden to be their nominee.
Other polls have found similar results for both front-runner candidates. A CNN poll, taken last December, found that only 38 percent of Republicans wanted Trump to win, while only 40 percent of Democrats wanted Biden renominated.
Who are the alternative options?
Although “many Republicans and Democrats would prefer to see someone else nominated,” CNN reported, “the vague concept of “someone else” isn’t an eligible challenger for the presidency. And when it comes to specific, viable rivals, Trump and Biden currently face very different situations.”
On the GOP side, alternatives abound, although only one appears to have any real traction right now: Ron DeSantis.
A Monmouth University poll recently asked Republican voters “an open-ended question” about who they want as their next presidential nominee. 33 percent named Trump. And 33 percent named DeSantis. No other candidate earned more than two percent.
Of course, it’s still early.
The Monmouth poll was taken before Nikki Haley officially entered the race. And the deck has a way of reshuffling throughout the primary season. Jeb Bush was supposed to win the 2016 nomination. Ben Carson actually led the polls at one point. So, don’t put too much stock in early polling data. Although, DeSantis figures to be a factor in the race and a viable alternative to Trump.
The Democrats have a simpler problem: there is no alternative to Biden. Despite the fact that 72 percent of Democratic voters in CNN’s December poll answered that they “wanted to see the party nominate someone else,” they said they had “nobody specific in mind.” That figures, because no one is likely to challenge Biden for the nomination; he should enjoy a straight shot the Democratic ticket – assuming he runs for reelection (he is expected to announce his candidacy soon).
Another Trump-Biden matchup is entirely possible, even likely – which is curious given that the majority of voters would prefer alternative candidates earn the nomination. But with the Democrats there is no alternative – and with the Republicans, the field may be splintered too heavily for popular support to settle on just one alternative, leaving Trump to snatch the nomination with a plurality.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.