By Catherine Welch || Contributing Writer

The race for the GOP presidential nomination has begun with only a little over a year left until the next presidential election. This year’s candidates are a star-studded cast: the first president to be criminally indicted, a former vice president despised for his role in the January 6th insurrection, one of the the most politically accomplished women — who happens to also be the first woman of color — to run for the Republican presidential nomination, and a 38 year old former technology and finance CEO. In this article, the top Republican candidates will be analyzed based on how much they reflect the beliefs of the Republican party.

Former President Donald Trump

Former president Donald Trump remains the top candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. Trump gravitates to the ‘MAGA’ faction of Republicans. These people are extremists with their views: a prime example, the Proud Boys. However, many Republicans — as well as Democrats — have expressed that they are suffering from “Trump fatigue.” Trump has arguably been one of the most polarizing presidents in US history. His term, impeachments, the insurrection, and impending trial have dominated the news. Additionally, if Trump is convicted he will not be able to run for president. A faction of the Republican party has utilized these sentiments to create political commercials in favor of ending the Trump reign. 

Mike Pence

Mike Pence is the former vice president under Donald Trump. Pence’s refusal to question the results of the 2020 election has made him a target of the MAGA audience, but honorable and just in the eyes of other Republicans — and even some Democrats. Pence’s Evangelical views, however, work both toward his benefit and disadvantage. His promotion and funding of conversion therapy and his banishment of abortion (even when the pregnancy is not viable), will attract Evangelical republican voters; however, this is a small faction of the party. Democrats who are also willing to vote for a Republican candidate would most likely not vote for him due to these views.  

Chris Christie 

Chris Christie is the former governor of New Jersey. In 2001, President Bush appointed Chris Christie as the attorney general of New Jersey. Due to his legal background, Chris Christie repeatedly states that he will obey the constitution. While Christie had not declared himself a constitutionalist, his sentiments and faith in the constitution align with what a constitutionalist believes: the government derives the entirety of its power from the constitution. Due to his beliefs, Chris Christie has outwardly said he would not support a president that impedes with the law (cough, cough…Trump). While this has turned MAGA voters against him, Christie’s steadfastness does align with the “law and order” beliefs of Republicans.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley is the only female candidate currently running for the GOP nomination. One of the most politically experienced women in history, Haley was the former governor of South Carolina and the 29th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Nikki Haley has courageously differentiated herself from her other candidates by discussing plans with arguably more liberal issues. Haley strays away from the anti-climate change beliefs of many conservatives by acknowledging climate change does exist and would capture harmful emissions from industries as a solution. This has won her favor among conservative environmental groups and young conservatives. Haley also strays from the traditional conservative attitude about abortion, proclaiming while she does not support it, she would like to seek a national consensus instead of favoring one side over the other. Of course, Haley would need to beat conservative traditionalist values about women to seek the GOP nomination; however, women make up nearly half of the GOP primary electorate. 

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis was elected Florida’s governor in 2018. While DeSantis and Trump no longer get along — which hurts DeSantis’s favorability among the ‘MAGA’ faction — DeSantis’ far-right policies have made him a favorable candidate among conservatives. One prominent example is his support of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which bans education about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classrooms. Even though DeSantis’ policies align him with the conservatives, his anti-Trump attitude, lack of contribution in the most recent  candidate debate, and the rumor that his wife is the “mastermind” behind all these speeches, has made DeSantis appear ineffective and weak.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy is the youngest out of all the GOP candidates. With his CEO background, Vivek is the embodiment of big business and lower taxes. Vivek is a Trump supporter, which looks great to the MAGA crowd, but not to the rest of the Republicans. Vivek’s vivaciousness during the first debate was also seen as a political tactic to draw attention to himself since he is generally unknown. Whether he wins the nomination or not is unclear; however, his support for Trump and his access to the media keeps him in the spotlight. 

Other Candidates

Tim Scott – South Carolina senator

Ryan Binkley – Dallas area businessman and non-denominational poster

Doug Burgum – governor of North Dakota

Larry Elder – former conservative media personality

Will Hurd – former Texas congressman

Asa Hutchinson – U.S. attorney, congressman, DEA administrator, and two-term Arkansas governor

Perry Johnson – businessman and self-described “quality guru”

First-year Catherine Welch is a Contributing Writer. Her email is