The first Republican Presidential debate of the 2024 cycle is set for Wednesday is Wisconsin and Donald Trump has announced that he will skip the event. We’ll take a look at who is set to appear on stage and how they are looking in the betting heading into the event…

Next US President Odds – (Selected Candidates)

  • Donald Trump* – 9/4
  • Vivek Ramaswary – 10/1
  • Ron DeSantis – 16/1
  • Nikki Haley – 50/1
  • Chris Christie – 50/1
  • Tim Scott – 50/1
  • Mike Pence – 66/1
  • Doug Burgam – 200/1

*Not appearing at the First Republican Debate

As of the time of writing seven candidates had passed the qualifying criteria and had announced that they would be participating. With the candidate best known to the public deciding to sidestep the stage, it gives an opening for another person to steal the limelight and leapfrog themselves into the position as the best placed Republican to give the former President a scare in the nomination process.

First up we have not Ron DeSantis, who has for a long time been considered the frontrunner to go toe to toe for the former Apprentice host. Instead it is 38-year-old entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy who has been steadily rising in the polls and is now considered the second choice behind Trump in the betting to win the Republican nomination.

With a staggeringly right-wing pitch (even for modern Republicans), Ramaswamy wants to fire 75% of federal employees including abolishing the FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He thinks that America has lost its National Identity, which he pledges to restore and rails against Affirmative Action.

In shock of all shocks, he has declared the climate change agenda a hoax and wants to strip the right of young Americans to vote unless they serve in the military or are first responders. He’s a huge Trump supporter and is 4/1 to be the Vice President nominee, which looks a very tempting bet.

With youthful energy and an extreme right-wing pitch, you can immediately see why he has gained popularity and a good performance can see him vault very much to the forefront of this race.

Now we circle back to Ron DeSantis and wonder what has happened and how can he turn his ailing campaign around? The Governor of Florida desperately needs some positive momentum considering just nine months ago or so he was the betting favourite to win not only the nomination, but the Presidency itself. Now he’s the third choice to take on Joe Biden next November and his polling numbers are just ebbing away like erosion creating an oxbow lake. His dominating victory in the race for Governor in 2022 seemed to indicate that he was very much the coming man but a series of gaffes coupled with being completely outmanoeuvred by Donald Trump means this debate has suddenly become of real importance for the 44-year-old. A strong performance is very much needed.

Former Vice President Mike Pence is also expected on stage as he continues his campaign to try and step out of the shadow of his former boss. Considered very much a longshot to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, his decision to help certify the 2020 election result and not partake in the attempts to overturn a democratic result may have been the right thing to do but was always the end of his realistic chances to win over the majority of Republican voters who still consider the result either rigged and/or stolen.

North Carolina Senator Tim Scott is eyeing up the debate for a breakout moment and in a similar vein to Ron DeSantis, he needs it. Go back a couple of months and he was looking like the coming candidate, polling close to the Florida Governor but is averaging around 3% in recent weeks.

Florida New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not giving up on his hopes to become the next Commander-in-Chief but his biggest issue is that he is known and not particularly liked. These events are best for candidates many might not already know but who impress, Christie of course ran for President eight years ago.

Nikki Haley is also known but not to the same degree so this is an opportunity to announce herself to a wider-audience. What makes the former Governor of South Carolina stand out from the crowd is she doesn’t seem to duck the big issues and seemingly isn’t just all in on the abolition of Roe v. Wade, which has been a key part of the Republican agenda for a while now. I would expect a solid showing, or better on Wednesday night.

The final person who has reached the criteria as of Monday morning was North Dakota Governor Doug Burgam, who is seen as a longshot to be in this race for the long haul. This is just an opportunity for him to be seen.

Heading into Wednesday, all eyes will be on Vivek Ranaswary and Ron DeSantis to see if either man can come out of it as the top choice behind the overwhelmed favourite to get the nomination. I also think Nikki Haley’s night will be interesting to see whether she can really push her experience at the United Nations as a factor in this race.

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