- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is among a swarm of possible 2024 Republican presidential contenders that are not letting the early polls dampen their hopes of pulling off the ultimate long shot win.

Indeed, they are tossing aside the surveys and imagining ways the dice could roll in their favor.

That line of thinking has been crystallized in some post-election surveys, including from the Morning Consult pollsters who went into the field soon after the election to take the temperature of Republican voters and gauge who they thought is the person to lead the party into 2024.

Of the 896 GOP voters surveyed, Mr. Hogan, who is term-limited after eight years leading his historically blue state, had one voter tap him as their top pick in a hypothetical 2024 GOP presidential race.

The good news? Mr. Hogan was a step ahead of Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who was blanked, and a couple of steps behind former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who received three votes apiece.

Former President Donald Trump led the pack, with 382 votes, followed by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, with 252 votes.

SEE ALSO: Trump denies Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner don’t want to join 2024 campaign

The survey laid bare the massive challenge possible GOP candidates such as Mr. Hogan face in trying to move from a single supporter to a plurality in a primary or caucus.

Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State, quipped: “The one who voted for Hogan was probably Mrs. Hogan!” 

Mr. Schmidt, on a more serious note, said presidential politics have become an “entrepreneurial contest in which its worth the gamble for many ambitious political investors.”

“The payback of you win or even score high and can parlay that into a profitable career,” he said. “For any of the vast number of wannabes something serious would have to happen to kick out Trump (serious illness for example) and DeSantis would be damaged if his poll numbers shrink or there are presidential ambition a ding policy or personal life surprises.

“In conclusion, bad luck is the most likely force that will derail the top two contenders and good luck could open space for some of the unlimited number of people who believe they could succeed The Donald,” he said.

In other words, it is possible that circumstances could change for the less-popular contenders.

There are some signs to suggest the 2024 GOP presidential race is going to be similar to the 2016 contest where the field of Republicans eventually vied to be the alternative to Mr. Trump.

Mr. DeSantis, at the moment, is best positioned to seize that mantle, with poll after poll showing him battling it out with Mr. Trump for the top spot.

That has not scared away what could prove to be a crowded GOP race that could include former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Politico/Morning Consult survey showed they all have their work cut out for them. Mr. Pence received 62 votes, Mrs. Haley received 19 votes, and Mr. Pompeo received 7 votes.

Outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming pulled in 17 votes.

“Trump is weakening clearly, and there is obviously a hunger in the Republican Party to move onto something new, and the person who is filling that space right now is DeSantis,” said a Republican consultant with ties to one possible contender who didn’t want to be identified handicapping the race. 

Hogan, Haley, Pompeo, they register in the single digits, but the thing is, at this point in the game, DeSantis is untested, unproven on the national stage and there are a lot of reasons to think he will have a lot of weaknesses — especially campaigning in the early states,” he said. “[DeSantis] has the upper hand, he is in the driver’s seat, but we are far out and there are reasons to think he will not shine so bright on the national stage — especially when Trump comes after him,” he said of Mr. DeSantis.

Mr. Trump left a trail of campaign carcasses during his stunning rise in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and has shown he plans to bring the fight once again in the 2024 nomination race, lashing out against critics in both parties.

As for Mr. Hogan, he told The Washington Times in a recent interview that the Trump brand has hurt the party, including in Maryland, and he blamed the former president for the party’s recent electoral disappointments.

“We have to move in a different direction,” he said.

• Mica Soellner contributed to this story.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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