Election 2024: Why some long shot candidates stay in the race

Doug Burgum, Asa Hutchinson, Ryan Binkley, and Chris Christie are all at less than five percent in the most recent ISU poll
Former President Donald Trump still holds a 55 percent majority in the most recent Iowa State University poll.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 6:16 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (Gray Iowa Capitol Bureau) - Former President Donald Trump still holds a 55 percent majority in the most recent Iowa State University poll. Experts say it’s shaping up to be a race to see who can come in second place, but four candidates are polling at less than five percent and haven’t dropped out.

For Dallas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley, it’s been difficult to break out of the low single digits in the polls. Binkley says it’s been hard to establish a national presence since the Republican National Committee keeps raising the bar for debates. “So they’re kind of selecting the candidates, but historically Iowa has so I’m kind of sharing this message in Iowa, going straight here and to New Hampshire hoping these first in the nation states here are really resonating with our message and so far they have been,” Binkley said.

Binkley says he’s not expecting to win the caucuses, but hopes sticking it out raises his profile in other states. “If at the end of the day, we finish in the top three or four, maybe even five here in Iowa, people are going to start to take notice. We started off in thirteenth or fourteenth place and so we’ve been moving up a little bit. As we continue to do that, I really believe we’re going to get more well known,” Binkley said.

So why do candidates who seemingly don’t have a shot stick it out? Drake University political science professor Rachel Paine Caufield says oftentimes candidates want to make a name for themselves ahead of future runs or get a cabinet level job. Caufield also says there’s an allure to Iowa. “The Jimmy Carter story of Iowa, right. Where a little known candidate can come into the state and spend virtually no money and just shake hands and get to know people and share their story and then voters will gravitate towards them,” Caufield said.

Caufield says there’s also a mythology of the race changing up towards the end. “Some candidates may think, ‘you know what, I’m not polling well right now but, you know, my fortunes could change and I could suddenly be recognized’,” Caufield said.

But that’s not likely to happen this time. “It is hard to imagine that in 2024 we’re going to have a breakthrough dark horse candidate that we really haven’t yet been paying any attention to and a big part of that is simply Donald Trump,” Caufield said.

Caufield says what’s most important to watch in this race is who comes in second place. That candidate could serve as the top alternative to Donald Trump.