Mike Pence, Conservative, Longshot, and Relic?

By Jason Collins

Mike Pence Polling at 3% Nationwide and 4% in Iowa As Fight to Secure Battleground States Continues 

Former Vice President of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, struggles to attract enough donors to raise funds for the first Republican debate and gain traction in key battleground states. Pence, who is nowhere near as strong in the polls as the top candidates, has resorted to a new tactic; small-dollar donations. 

Pence’s Reaganesque Campaign 

You would think that as a former vice president to Donald Trump, Pence would be a popular candidate in the GOPs list of presidential candidates. However, this couldn’t be more wrong. 

Think about it, Pence is a vice president running against his former boss, Trump, and the success rate of that is close to unheard of. Pence is nowhere near as high up in the polls as former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Current statistics on Aug. 1 from InteractivePolls show that Trump is sitting in the lead with a 54% approval rate, DeSantis has a 17%, and Pence is sitting far behind with a 3% approval rate.  

The problem with Pence’s campaign is that it’s too old-fashioned, and he doesn’t have a base. It’s not big or flashy like Donald Trump’s rallies that can draw crowds of thousands. This year one of Trump’s rallies was held in a small town in South Carolina and drew crowds of between 50 – 55,000 people. To put that into perspective, that’s the same average number of fans that attend a Taylor Swift or Elton John concert. Pence’s campaign rallies do not have crowds anywhere near those numbers, he struggles to fill a high school gymnasium. For example, at his Iowa rally in Des Moines, Pence only managed to attract a crowd of 250.  

Pence’s woes to attract voters have gotten so dire that he is now pleading for small-dollar donations. One-dollar donations, to be exact. At a garden party that a former senator hosted, Pence had asked potential voters for a “buck” in his longshot-bid to gain traction. At this party, Pence had said to guests, “Even one dollar, although I want to emphasize you can give a lot more, would be a help tonight, even before you go to bed tonight, go online, send us a buck or whatever.” 

This isn’t the first time that Pence has whipped out this tactic, and it was only one day later when he told residents at the evening town hall, “If you want to donate just a dollar, it counts toward the 40,000.” 

Aside from Pence’s traditional, quiet, and sometimes old-fashioned campaigns, Pence is having a hard time gaining traction in the polls because of his refusal to overturn the 2020 election results.

The Trump/Pence Drama in the electoral count 

Pence and Trump’s partnership came to a head when the 2020 presidential election results were released in January 2021. Despite Trump’s mega campaigns and speeches, he lost to Joe Biden, 232 to 306. This was thanks to Biden’s campaign ability to gain traction in the swing states. 

Before the election, the partnership between Trump and Pence was already strained. This was the final straw. Trump had apparently demanded that Pence overturn the election results, claiming that the election had been stolen and Biden had somehow cheated. As Pence, at the time, had presided over Congress’ certification of the results, Trump had wanted him to reject specific state’s electoral votes. Trump didn’t expect Pence to turn around and say no, claiming that he did not have the constitutional power to do so. Not only did Pence not overturn the election results, he made the decision to certify the election results on Jan. 6, 2021.

What followed was a day of total anarchy. Supporters of Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building to disrupt the proceedings resulting in Pence hiding in the basement for hours before being evacuated. Whoever said politics is boring!

Following the events of January 6th, many Republicans, mostly Trump supporters, were angry at Pence, including Trump himself, for passing what they believed were fraudulent votes to Congress and handing Biden the keys to the White House. So, it is no surprise that Pence is battling to build himself a support base amongst Republicans and battleground states. The Washington Post calls Pence “unpalatable to many,” which is why Pence has resorted to such a long shot to attract donors.

The GOP Presidential Debate

The presidential debate will get underway on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee and is an opportunity for other presidential candidates aside from Trump and DeSantis to try and make an impression on potential voters and win over some key battleground states. This is a chance that Pence might miss if he doesn’t manage to get enough funding to qualify. 

For GOP candidates to qualify for the first presidential debate of the year, they need to meet certain requirements. To be included, states must attract 200 donors or more, and certain polling numbers must be met. This means that candidates need to have gained support from at least 1% of Republican voters in three national polls. The second option is to have gained support in two national polls and two polls in the early primary states. Each candidate needs to acquire 40,000 campaign donors, and within these numbers, 200 of these need to be from 20 states. 

Currently, Pence has only met one of the three requirements. He’s met the required poll levels but is lacking donors. By the end of June, he had only had around 3,000 donors, whereas Trump had over 350,000 and South Carolina senator Tim Scott had around 45,000. Just this week, on Aug. 2, Pence predicted that he would be able to meet the 40,000 donor requirement within the next ten days and was hoping to spare himself the embarrassment of not attending the debate. Pence has just under three weeks to attract more doors, one dollar at a time. 

What is Pence’s Platform?

The reason why Pence may be struggling to attract a support base is that he’s a traditionalist conservative who is fighting to be heard over the likes of Trump and DeSantis. With his conservative views on abortion, gender affirmation, and gay marriage, Pence’s platform appeals only to evangelical Christians. Pence has been open about his “born-again” experience in 1978 at a Christian music festival in Asbury, Kentucky, and hopes this may be the ticket to gaining voters.   

However, candidates like Trump, DeSantis, and Tim Scott are also competing for evangelical voters and are currently ahead of him. 

Pence and the Trump indictments.

As Trump faces his third indictment spearheaded by Jack Smith, Pence shared his latest thoughts on the whole debacle. At his campaign rally in Indiana, Pence had reiterated his feelings that anyone who puts themselves above the constitution does not deserve to be president of the U.S. He was making a direct dig at Trump asking him to overturn the 2020 election results. 

Following his statements, Trump went on to attack Pence on Truth Social, calling him a bad person and delusional. With such low numbers in the polls, getting into a fight with Trump may not be a good idea for Pence’s already struggling campaign.  

As one of the weakest presidential candidates, many are left wondering why Pence is even running for president. Throughout history, U.S Vice Presidents haven’t had a particularly strong record of success in becoming president. Is there hope for Pence as president? This seems improbable, as Trump voters will never back Pence, especially after his latest comments and his conservative views make him a pariah to Joe Biden voters. If he’s hoping for a cabinet position there is very little chance of this happening if Trump wins the election. With his old-fashioned campaign messaging, strategy, and conservative views, it looks more likely that Pence is stuck in a version of America that no longer exists.