This is the third of a three-part series breaking down the Fox News Power Rankings ahead of the first 2024 GOP presidential debate. Read part one and part two here.
This edition of the Fox News Power Rankings for the GOP primary looks closely at each candidate’s early state polling, visits and field operations, then their national polling and fundraising positions. Today: ‘The outsiders.’
Asa Hutchinson lacks goodwill with both the moderate wing of the party and the hard-right base, leaving him without a constituency.
The former governor of Arkansas has a long list of conservative credentials. He was a U.S. House Republican, served in the George W. Bush administration and once chaired a National Rifle Association task force about school shootings. His occasional Trump criticism, however, and a decision to veto a bill outlawing transgender surgery for minors, have shut him out from Trump-friendly voters.
The Trump criticism should earn him some praise from moderate or persuadable Republicans (and some crossover donors), but his comments lack the frequency and punch of Chris Christie, or the authority of Mike Pence.
Hutchinson has gained a minimum of 1% in enough RNC-approved polls to make it to the August debate, but that 1% is frequently his ceiling as well. In fact, Hutchinson has only received more than 1% in one national poll, from any public pollster, since July.
More troubling is the lack of donor enthusiasm. He told CBS News last week he was ‘close to halfway there’ on reaching 40,000 donors, indicating limited grassroots support, even though he was among the earliest candidates to announce a presidential run.
Will Hurd fits neatly into the moderate lane of the party and has an impressive résumé, but the lane isn’t wide enough for him to get significant support.
One of the last candidates to join the race, the former Texas congressman is a bona fide center-right candidate with moderate positions on spending, immigration and health care. He once livestreamed a road trip across America with Democrat Beto O’Rourke. He brings foreign policy experience to the table as a former CIA officer and was once the only Black Republican in the lower house.
The problem is that Hurd’s brand of solutions-based centrism has fallen out of favor in the modern GOP, with only about a quarter of the party identifying themselves as moderate. Even fewer favor working with the Democrats to find common ground.
There is also significant overlap between moderate and non-Trump primary voters, which leaves Hurd lurking in Christie’s shadow.
Like Christie, Hurd’s best pathway goes through New Hampshire, but he received just 1% in the July UNH poll and has shown no signs of growth since then. He also lacks the donors and the bankroll to improve his name awareness.
Francis Suarez might be the kind of candidate to take the GOP into the future, but his inexperience is an issue.
The 45-year-old mayor of Miami is running on his work in the Magic City, calling out its economic growth, low unemployment and balanced budget. He is also the only Latino candidate in the race, making him an ideal ambassador for the party as it courts more Hispanic voters in 2024.
Since joining the field, Suarez has faced allegations of corruption related to his real estate investments and questions about the scope of his mayoral work since the city is largely run by the Miami-Dade County government.
It culminated in a damaging interview with Hugh Hewitt in July, when Suarez shrugged off a question about the Uyghur population in China. He later said he didn’t recognize the pronunciation.
Suarez reached 1% in our Fox Business Poll last month in Iowa, the state where he has also spent the most time on the ground since announcing. He is also sending $20 gift cards to new donors, which helps get him to the debate but depletes his war chest.
Larry Elder has the messaging and skills to make a serious bid for the nomination but isn’t invested in this race.
The longtime talk radio host has a story to tell about ‘liberal city values,’ using his show as a launching pad to talk about rising crime and the high cost of living under President Biden. These are popular themes among GOP primary voters, and as a longtime resident of Los Angeles, he can speak about them with more authority than any other candidate.
But Elder is doing that from the city itself, where he is tied down with a full-time broadcasting job. He has barely traveled to the early voting states and only has five staff members across the country. His strongest competitors have hired dozens in those early states alone.
This lack of investment is reflected in his polling and second-quarter cash-on-hand figures, which are the weakest in the field.