Will Donald Trump win the Republican nomination?

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Illustrated | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign is officially underway. He held his first public campaign event at the end of January. But he's not the only person vying for the GOP nomination: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is poised to enter the race. As election season heats up, Trump faces mounting criminal investigations and questions about his relevancy in the Republican Party. How likely is he to win the 2024 GOP nomination? Here's everything you need to know:

Is Trump the 2024 Republican frontrunner?

Trump so far is the only person to have officially declared he's running for the Republican nomination, but many Republicans will likely throw their hats into the ring. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be Trump's main competition. The governor, who was re-elected during the 2022 midterms in a landslide, looks primed to become one of the new faces of the GOP, and many pundits believe he will announce a bid for the presidency.

A recent poll cited by The Hill from the conservative South Carolina Policy Council showed that only 37 percent of likely South Carolina GOP primary voters want Trump to be the nominee, compared to 47 percent who said they'd prefer someone else." A University of New Hampshire poll showed Trump trailing Ron DeSantis in the state by a 12-point margin.

Trump may still have some gas left in his tank though. While some Republicans are distancing themselves from him, many high-profile figures in the GOP remain by his side. This includes figures like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), both of whom helped kick off Trump's official election campaign in Columbia. Plus, a recent Emerson College poll said Trump was holding a three-point margin in a hypothetical 2024 matchup with President Biden, though a number of other polls have him trailing.

Who else might run?

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, is expected to announce her candidacy on Feb. 15, according to a report from Charleston's The Post and Courier. She is "probably our first South Carolinian since we voted for George Washington that has really had a chance of being president of the United States," Katon Dawson, the former South Carolina GOP chair, told The Washington Post. "And I think the Trump folks are going to run into that history."

During a Jan. 19 interview with Fox News, Haley said she thinks she "could be that leader" who takes the United States "in a new direction." Haley added that she's "never lost a race. I said that then, I still say that now. I'm not going to lose now." If she runs, it would be a bit of an about-face: She once told The Associated Press she "would not run if President Trump ran."

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem have also hinted at their intention to run. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has reportedly been considering a run, as has South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

What has been Trump's messaging?

Trump has continued to repeat the falsehood that he won the 2020 presidential election. The Washington Post noted that his fixation on this lie is "an issue that many Republicans worry has cost their party crucial support."

Trump told a small crowd gathered at his first official campaign event in South Carolina that he was "more angry now" and "more committed now than I ever was." He also told those in attendance that he would be holding larger rallies in the coming months.

Trump also looked to another early-voting state, New Hampshire, where he attended a meeting of the state's top Republicans to try and drum up support in the north. He delivered a longwinded speech, repeating the 2020 "big lie." Time described his appearance in New Hampshire as a series of "hour-long, stream-of-conscious remarks that seemed vamped."

Who thinks Trump won't be the nominee?

Democrats performed significantly better than expected in the midterms, and much of the blame for this was placed on Trump, who saw almost all of his endorsed candidates lose by large margins. Many in the GOP were quick to brand the former president a loser, and some, such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, urged others in the party to leave Trump behind.

Others have followed suit. Paul Ryan, the former speaker of the House, predicted in an October 2022 interview that Trump would not be the Republican nominee in 2024. Ryan lambasted Trump as bad for the party, and said that by the time the general election comes around, "Trump's unelectability will be palpable."

"We all know that he's much more likely to lose the White House than anybody else running for president on our side of the aisle, so why would we want to go with that?" Ryan asked. "He's not going to be the nominee, I don't think."

Another prominent Republican and often outspoken critic of Trump, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, told CNN that the ex-president was to blame for Republican's midterm losses. "It's basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race, and it's like, three strikes, you're out," Hogan said. "People who tried to relitigate the 2020 election and focused on conspiracy theories … they were all almost universally rejected."

Who thinks Trump will be the nominee?

Still quite a few Republicans, including Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York. Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference, is the highest-ranking GOP member to publicly support Trump's 2024 bid. In a statement, Stefanik wrote, "It is time for Republicans to unite around the most popular Republican in America, who has a proven track record of conservative governance," adding that it was "very clear" Trump was the leader of the Republican Party.

Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, a physician who was previously Trump's medical adviser, tweeted, "President Trump is the GREATEST President I've ever seen. I'm on his side 100%! PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS MY COMPLETE AND TOTAL ENDORSEMENT!!!" This sentiment was echoed by Kari Lake, who lost her 2022 campaign to become governor of Arizona. Lake, like Jackson, tweeted that Trump had her "complete and total endorsement."

Another person backing up Trump is Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R), the controversial congresswoman who was recently given seats on two committees. Greene has been a staunch supporter of Trump throughout her time in Congress, and recent reports suggest she may be vying to be his vice presidential pick in 2024.

Updated Feb. 2, 2023: This piece has been updated throughout to reflect developments in the GOP political landscape. 

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