This is the first of a three-part series breaking down the Fox News Power Rankings ahead of the second 2024 GOP presidential debate.
These rankings place most of the candidates beneath Trump in new tiers or positions. The forecast also anticipates that a candidate from each wing will come in first and second place, but a standard-bearer for the conservative wing has not yet emerged.
Trump continues to receive support from a majority of Republicans in gold-standard national and state polls, and now also enjoys a wider gap between himself and his next closest competitor than at any other point in the cycle so far.
He remains the clear frontrunner of this race.
WHAT ARE THE FOX NEWS POWER RANKINGS?
Last time, the Power Rankings called the next tier of candidates underneath Trump the “contenders.” In other words, the candidates who were serious threats to his nomination.
With support for DeSantis falling, and little national or statewide polling that is encouraging for the candidates behind him, nobody clears that bar this time.
Instead, the next tier of candidates are the “challengers.” They all have pathways to the nomination, but haven’t distinguished themselves enough from the pack to take on the frontrunner.
DeSantis still leads this group, though by a smaller margin.
Ramaswamy moves up to third place, on the back of consistent improvements in national polling. The 38-year-old entrepreneur is yet to break out of the single digits in gold-standard statewide polls.
According to voters, Ramaswamy performed best out of any candidate at the first debate. 35% of people who watched or heard about the event said he “exceeded expectations” (WSJ Poll, August).
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Haley sits close behind, both in terms of her debate performance and her overall position on the Power Rankings. 27% of voters in the same poll say she exceeded expectations in Milwaukee, leaving candidates beneath her in the dust.
She is making promising gains in national and statewide polls. In her home state, for example, she most recently sat at 18% (Monmouth/WaPo Poll, September). Remember, though, that South Carolina only awards delegates to the winner of their primary.
Scott has dropped two places. The first debate did him no favors, with only 2% of voters saying he exceeded expectations. There are signs that his support in the early states is weakening.
After a fiery performance in the first debate, Pence is still struggling to find his constituency. He may be leading the populism vs conservatism debate, but so far, voters are not listening. He stays in sixth.
Note on second place
The challengers are also grouped into the wings of the party that they generally represent: DeSantis and Ramaswamy in the “populist” wing, and Haley, Scott and Pence in the “conservative” wing.
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Each wing offers a very different vision to voters. Therefore, as candidates drop out, their supporters are more likely to support someone like-minded than jump to a different ideology.
As a result, the most likely outcome is that as the field narrows, candidates will remain from both wings of the party.
This forecast therefore expects that if Trump continues to lead the race, the candidate in second place is most likely to come from the conservative wing.
None of the conservative wing candidates have done enough to distinguish themselves from the pack yet, so they can’t be placed higher in the individual rankings. It is also possible, though unlikely, that all of the leading candidates from the conservative wing drop out of the race early.
The second debate airs next Wednesday
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Fox Business and Univision will host the second Republican debate next Wednesday, September 27, at 9PM ET, from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
Your moderators are Fox’s Dana Perino and Stuart Varney, and Univision’s Ilia Calderón.
Live coverage begins at 8PM ET on Fox Business Network and 8:30PM ET on Fox News Channel. The debate will simulcast on both networks, along with Univision, and streaming partner Rumble.