The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has long served as a barometer for the priorities and preferences of right-leaning voters. This year’s CPAC straw poll provides insight into potential GOP frontrunners for the 2024 presidential election.

According to the results, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a strong lead as the preferred Republican nominee to succeed former President Donald Trump. However, the poll also sheds light on Trump’s potential running mate should he seek re-election.

What the VP Pick Could Mean for Trump’s Strategy

Selecting a staunch conservative as his running mate could be a strategic move by Mr. Trump to galvanize the support of his base. Candidates like Ms. Noem or Mr. Ramaswamy, who received the most votes in the CPAC straw poll, would appeal to the far-right faction of the party that believes the former president did not go far enough during his time in office.

Source: FT montage

Choosing an ideological purist could be an attempt by Mr. Trump to reignite the passions of his most ardent supporters and ensure a high turnout from that voting bloc. On the other hand, Mr. Trump may opt for a running mate with more moderate credentials to broaden his appeal beyond his base.

Pros and Cons of the Role

However, being Trump’s running mate also carries significant risks and downsides. Trump’s previous vice president, Mike Pence, broke with Trump over efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, leading to threats against Pence’s life from Trump supporters.

Source: Tasos Katopodis

If Trump wins in 2024, his vice president will essentially be the heir apparent, positioned to run in 2028. But if Trump loses, the vice president will be left to pick up the pieces of a fractured Republican party. There is also the possibility of Trump being convicted of criminal charges during the campaign.

Overview of CPAC 2024 Straw Poll Results: Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy is a biotech entrepreneur and author who spoke at CPAC 2024. Ramaswamy founded biotech companies and wrote a book critiquing “woke capitalism.” Ramaswamy appeals to conservatives who support free-market capitalism and oppose left-wing social policies promoted by some corporations.

Source: Mandel Ngan

However, Ramaswamy lacks experience in government, and his political views are relatively unknown, posing risks as a potential vice president.

Overview of CPAC 2024 Straw Poll Results: Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, also received 15% of the vote. Noem has served as governor of South Dakota since 2019 and previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: Susan Walsh

Noem emerged as a prominent Republican governor for avoiding strict lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Noem’s lack of foreign policy experience and relatively short tenure as governor could be liabilities.

DeSantis and Pompeo Still Top Choices for Trump’s Running Mate

According to a straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emerged as the top two choices to join former President Donald Trump on the 2024 Republican presidential ticket.

Source: Ron Przysucha

Governor DeSantis has been a staunch ally of Mr. Trump and has implemented policies in Florida that align with Mr. Trump’s “America First” agenda. However, DeSantis has publicly ruled out joining Trump on the ticket, stating that he intends to run for re-election as governor of Florida in 2022.

Other Contenders

Several other individuals received a significant share of the vote, including Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Scott, and Elise Stefanik. Gabbard is a former Democratic congresswoman who has become popular with some conservatives.

Source: Brandon Bell

Tim Scott is a Republican senator from South Carolina, while Elise Stefanik is a Republican congresswoman from New York who serves as House Republican Conference Chair.

How the Running Mate Could Appeal to Different Factions of the GOP

Mr. Trump’s choice of running mate could prove crucial in appealing to the fractured base of the Republican Party. As the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee, Trump will need to unite conservatives, evangelicals, populists, and moderates to secure victory.

Source: Tristan Wheelock

Choosing a staunch conservative as his running mate, such as Kristi Noem or Tim Scott, would energize the right flank of the party. Noem holds hardline positions on gun rights, abortion, and immigration that resonate strongly with conservatives.

Will Trump Go With an Insider or Outsider for VP?

Whether former President Trump will choose an establishment Republican insider or an outsider for his 2024 running mate is still up in the air. His previous comments indicate he values a candidate who could step into the presidency if needed, suggesting an experienced politician may be preferable.


However, Trump’s unconventional approach and desire to “drain the swamp” point to an outsider as a strong possibility. The results of the recent CPAC straw poll showcase a mix of insiders and outsiders as top choices for vice president among attendees.

Trump Remains Frontrunner for 2024 GOP Nomination

Former President Donald Trump remains the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, according to attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year.

Source: Al Drago

Trump, who spoke at CPAC, continues to wield significant influence over the Republican base. His speech was highly anticipated, and attendees gave him a raucous welcome. During his address, Trump continued to push the false claim that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him.

Future of the Party

The former president’s choice of running mate will also signal the direction in which he hopes to lead the Republican Party. If he chooses an ultra-conservative firebrand, it indicates he intends to push the GOP further to the right.

Source: Hoover Institution

Alternatively, selecting a candidate with a reputation as a pragmatist or policy wonk suggests Mr. Trump recognizes the need for more substance and competence in the party leadership. The vice-presidential nominee may well end up as the de facto leader of the Republican Party should Mr. Trump not run for or win another term as president.

Potential Risks of Selecting a Sitting Governor as VP

Selecting a sitting governor as a vice presidential candidate carries inherent risks that the campaign must consider. Trump’s top criteria for a running mate is someone capable of stepping into the presidency in case of emergency.


However, governors have demanding day jobs overseeing their states that could detract from campaigning and, if elected, fulfilling the duties of the vice presidency. Being Trump’s running mate is an “inherently dicey prospect,” and his last vice president, Mike Pence, broke from Trump in part due to the pressures of the role.

What Issues Could Define the 2024 GOP Ticket?

The 2024 Republican presidential ticket will likely be defined by several key issues that resonate with the conservative base.


Restricting both legal and illegal immigration has been a hallmark of former President Trump’s agenda. His administration issued several executive orders limiting refugee resettlement and temporary immigration programs.

The Votes are In, But There is a Long Way To Go

Whoever emerges as Trump’s running mate will face significant difficulties. They must appeal to Trump’s base while also projecting stability to win over independents in a general election. If Trump wins, his advanced age means the vice president could assume greater governing responsibilities or even the presidency itself.

Source: Intelligencer

However, too much independence risks angering Trump and his supporters. The CPAC poll indicates Republican voters want a running mate who will advance Trumpism, not reform or replace it.