Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the United States Senate, announced his candidacy for President of the United States in North Charleston on Monday. Last week, Scott announced that his campaign bought over $5.5 million of ads in the first states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which he also recently visited. Scott will have work to do in the months after announcing his campaign, given he only polls at 1% in Morning Consult’s weekly 2024 tracking poll. Scott does have an extremely low disapproval rating among Republicans, who are very unlikely to have consumed media depicting him in a negative light through the past few weeks.
Growing up in poverty, raised by a single mother, Scott’s supporters see his ascent to becoming a US Senator and Presidential candidate as an illustration of the American dream. Scott worked his way up to Senator, spending 14 years on the Charleston County Council, eventually becoming chairman. He was appointed to the US Senate by former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, another Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential field.
Scott enters the race with the support of two influential Republicans: Mike Rounds and Bill Haslem. Rounds publicly disagreed with former President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election and unexpectedly chose to support an alternate candidate in the 2024 GOP Primary. Scott chose Haslem, the billionaire former Tennessee Governor and chair of the Republican Governors Association, to become his national co-chair. Haslem has a history of criticizing Trump, and his personal worth will help the campaign financially and allow Scott to build national connections.
The Evangelical Right
Scott aggressively courted the Evangelical Right in the lead-up to his official campaign announcement. In the video announcing his exploratory committee, his primary promise was to protect religious liberty. A recent Politico piece chronicled his meeting with religious leaders in Iowa and his pitch to them about how he can represent the interests of the religious right as President of the United States. He will have to rely on these voters to serve as his base. If former Vice President Mike Pence declines to join the 2024 field, Scott may be the Republican with the strongest evangelical bona-fides.
Scott, like many other prospective Republican candidates, represents the traditional Republican party with Reaganist fiscal and foreign policy views. He boasts bonafide conservative credentials, supporting US intervention and action regarding the War on Terror in the Middle East as well as denying food stamps to people with a family member participating in a Labor Strike.
Since he is likely to run a classic “liberty, faith, and family” style campaign, voters from this group will likely be disappointed in his interest in culture war issues. Unlike Trump (who dominated with right-wing populists in 2016) or DeSantis (who has built his brand on culture war issues), Scott’s background in the legislative branch means he has fewer concrete victories than the two leading candidates potentially making it harder to win the support of these voters.
Scott will not aim to appeal to more moderate Republican Primary voters on social issues. His traditional stances on cultural issues (such as gay marriage, abortion, and multicultural assimilation) will lead him to success with his Evangelical base, but he is more socially conservative than Trump in most respects.
Decision Desk HQ is profiling each GOP presidential candidate and where their strengths and weaknesses are within the Republican primary coalition. You can see the previous profiles here: