Mike Pence gambled his career to become Trump's successor. Now he can't even find a lane to compete against his former boss.

Trump, DeSantis on the back of an elephant while Pence tries to hold on
Brandon Bell, winhorse, StuPorts, SOPA Images/Getty Images; Arif Qazi/Insider
  • Mike Pence gambled his future to become President Donald Trump's running mate and vice president.

  • It seems he lost the bet — his favorability in polling is catastrophically low for a former VP.

  • Evangelical Christians, moderates, and anti-Trump Republicans are all steering away from Pence.

Former Vice President Mike Pence gave four years of unwavering loyalty to President Donald Trump and the Make America Great Again Movement.

Two years after leaving office, it appears all for naught, as he can't seem to find a lane to compete against his former boss.

Pence simply hasn't been able to muster nearly enough support to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate — he hasn't even been able to crack the double-digits mark in support for the Republican nomination in Morning Consult's surveying.

No coup, no support

Pence lost his credibility amongst die-hard Trump and MAGA supporters when he refused to block the certification of electoral college votes on January 6, 2020.

This, in part, led to some Trump supporters storming the Capitol whilst chanting "hang Mike Pence." It's hard to believe he'll be able to win over that group by 2024.

According to a Morning Consult survey from March 2023, 80% of people who voted for Trump in 2020 said they still view Trump as either "very" or "somewhat favorable." Pence would need to lower those numbers, and it's unlikely Trump's indictment will do it for him — a Quinnipiac poll on Wednesday showed 75% of Republicans view criminal charges as not disqualifying for Trump.

And at public speaking engagements, Trump hasn't shied away from his disdain for Pence over January 6. He recently blamed Pence for the violence that broke out that day, which led to numerous injuries and the deaths of some Capitol security and rioters.

With all this in mind, it doesn't appear that there's a clear path for Pence to win over enough 2020 Trump voters in the 2024 primary to make a considerable difference.

The anti-Trump cohort doesn't believe in him

Could Pence make inroads with the anti-Trump wing of the Republican Party? Pence hasn't had much success courting them given the four years he worked in the Trump administration. He hasn't been able to win over moderate Republicans or Independents, given some of the divisive policies he pushed for in the White House and his time since.

In March 2022, Pence unveiled his policy plan based on American leadership, American opportunity, and American culture. The three-pronged plan seeks to promote "patriotic education," prevent transgender women from competing in select sporting events, end federal taxpayer-funded abortion, and more.

Pence's proposed policies don't bring much new to the table his rivals aren't already offering, and mostly resemble the standard Republican platform.

Other prospective candidates, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who also has yet to enter the race — have done a considerably better job at attracting the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of Republicans who enjoyed the effects of Trump's time in office but are nevertheless looking for an alternative. This is, in part, due to the fact that DeSantis has championed unique, albeit controversial, culture war policies while in the governor's mansion.

Additionally, for Republicans who are looking for a potential or declared candidate without nearly as much Trump baggage, there are plenty of options outside of Pence: DeSantis, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and even entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

A lack of love from evangelicals

Pence was, in part, chosen as Trump's running mate due to his close ties with the evangelical Christian community. But despite this, Monmouth University polling from March 2023 shows him lagging behind other prospective candidates, like DeSantis and Trump, in favorability polls among evangelical Republicans.

The evangelical base that Pence cultivated prior to and during the Trump presidency simply left him behind for greener pastures (or, in this case, two Floridians).

Evangelicals may no longer need one of their own in office to get the policy outcomes they want. Trump (who's not an evangelical Christian) appointed three members of the Supreme Court, which went on to repeal the federal abortion protections granted by Roe vs. Wade in 2022.

The Monmouth University Poll, additionally, appears to show that Republicans as a whole want nothing to do with him. Among a list of GOP leaders in the survey, Pence was the second-most "unfavorable" one (only behind former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie), drawing in a 37% unfavorability rating.

Pence's unfavorability rating has actually gotten worse over time. Monmouth University's Poll from February 2023 showed he came in at 28% "unfavorable," 9 percentage points better than his numbers in March.

According to Morning Consult's surveying, Pence once again received the second-most "unfavorable" polling behind only former Rep. Liz Cheney.

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Pence's presidential ambitions is that he's a known quantity. Unlike some declared candidates such as Haley and Ramaswamy, Pence is a well-known public figure whose actions have already influenced the opinions of a substantial percentage of the Republican electorate.

In other words: He won't have the opportunity to sway the minds of Republican primary voters who don't have an opinion about him. Everyone already appears to have one already.

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