Who’s the Trump VP Pick? Odds for Every Shortlist Candidate

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

In a typical presidential-election year, we’d currently be in the thick of primary season. But since the 2024 election will be a rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, people with an unhealthy addiction to political drama are already turning their attention to the race to be Trump’s running mate.

This is yet another aspect of the 2024 race where the normal rules don’t quite apply. Candidates typically want a potential vice-president who can “balance” the ticket demographically, ideologically, or geographically. Even Trump succumbed to this thinking in 2016: Mike Pence got the gig because he was a boring, midwestern, ultraconservative Christian with some governing experience — basically the opposite of the erratic, boorish New York TV personality. But this concession to the RNC ultimately backfired (in Trump’s mind) because Pence wouldn’t participate in his January 6 coup attempt.

Now that Trump’s GOP takeover is complete, he’s free to pick anyone he wants. And he’ll probably put a lot of stock in personal loyalty and who has “the look” (he’s known to base hiring decisions on whether candidates are “out of central casting”). This is, obviously, very creepy and inappropriate. But it’s something you have to consider when trying to predict Trump’s VP pick.

It’s unclear when Trump will announce his VP choice, but it could be months away; he revealed Pence was his running mate in July of 2016. For now, he’s just dropping hints about his pick. When asked in a March 14, 2024 Newsmax interview if he’s started to rule candidates out, Trump replied: “Yeah, I probably have a couple of people that you may know very well. Some people that I didn’t think behaved properly. Yeah, I think I’ve ruled some people out, but I’ve ruled a lot of people in.”

Here’s a list (which we’ll keep updated) of who is believed to be on Trump’s shortlist for vice-president, and the pros and cons of each possibility, loosely arranged from the candidates with the best odds to the worst.

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Kristi Noem has impeccable MAGA credentials. She has government experience but is no creature of “the swamp”; she served as South Dakota’s sole representative in the U.S. House for eight years before she was elected as the state’s first female governor in 2018. In 2020, she gained national attention for easing up on COVID restrictions faster than other governors and supporting Trump’s election-fraud lies. Noem has been issuing orders and legislation that put her at the center of hot culture-war issues, such as banning “critical race theory” and targeting transgender people. She was also the top pick for VP (tied with Vivek Ramaswamy) among attendees at the 2024 CPAC.
CONS: South Dakota is a solidly red state with only three Electoral College votes. In 2023, several outlets reported that the married mother of three was having an “absurdly blatant” affair with Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski (she’s denied this). Trump is reportedly concerned that Noem is too strict on abortion; she has called herself an “absolutist” on the issue and has defended the lack of rape and incest exceptions in her state’s extreme abortion ban.
LOYALTY CHECK: She can often be seen on Newsmax, Fox News, and other right-wing outlets almost openly campaigning for the job of Trump’s VP.
“LOOK” CHECK: Noem passes with flying colors. She’s a former farm girl and beauty queen whose recent memoir, Not My First Rodeo, is “chock-full of folksy idioms and Bible verses,” per The Atlantic.
TRUMP’S STANCE: He mentioned Noem (along with Tim Scott) as a potential VP pick in February 2024, saying she’s “been incredible fighting” for him. Noem was among the six people Trump (offhandedly) confirmed are on his shortlist during a February 20 Fox News town hall. Noem met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on February 27.
NOEM’S STANCE: When Newsmax asked her if she’d consider an offer to be Trump’s VP, she said “Oh, absolutely. I would in a heartbeat.”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: As the fourth-ranking member in House GOP leadership, Elise Stefanik could help Trump do the parts of the job that don’t interest him, like working with Congress and articulating the GOP platform. She’s also a talented fundraiser. Adding a 39-year-old woman to the Republican ticket could theoretically allay any concerns voters — and particularly suburban women — might have about reelecting a 77-year-old man who was found liable for sexual abuse and repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct.
CONS: The New York congresswoman can’t deliver her home state for Trump. And with its high turnover rate, perhaps the GOP House leadership can’t afford to lose a competent woman.
LOYALTY CHECK: During the 2016 campaign, Stefanik harshly criticized Trump for his incendiary rhetoric and policy views, saying he “has been insulting to women.” But after she started rising in the GOP leadership, she morphed into a MAGA cheerleader. Trump may appreciate that Stefanik is seemingly so desperate to be his running mate that she’ll say just about anything, from bemoaning the plight of the J6 “hostages” to blaming the media for the jury’s verdict in the E. Jean Carroll case. But her previous anti-Trump sentiments would certainly cause headaches for his campaign.
“LOOK” CHECK: Stefanik is a white woman from Albany of Italian and Czech heritage, but who knows if Trump considers the last name “Stefanik” “too ethnic.”
TRUMP’S STANCE: He reportedly nodded and said, “She’s a killer,” when Stefanik’s name came up as a potential VP pick during a December 2023 dinner with Mar-a-Lago members.
STEFANIK’S STANCE: When asked if she’d be Trump’s running mate, Stefanik said, “Of course, I’d be honored … to serve in a future Trump administration in any capacity.”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Trump’s allies are reportedly urging him to pick a woman or a Black man as his running mate, and Tim Scott is the only Black Republican in the Senate. In contrast to Trump’s vision of “American carnage,” Scott is consistently described as a “sunny” and “optimistic” guy (though he’s actually pretty into partisan warfare).
CONS: Scott’s performance in the 2024 GOP primary was unimpressive; he dropped out months before voting started. Trump doesn’t need Scott to win South Carolina, as Republicans have won the state in 13 of the last 14 presidential elections. Trump is reportedly concerned that Scott is too hard-line on abortion; the senator has said he will “sign the most conservative pro-life legislation that they can get through Congress,” suggesting he’s in favor of a national abortion ban.
LOYALTY CHECK: Scott voted to certify Biden’s 2020 win, still thinks Mike Pence “did the right thing” on January 6, and dared to challenge Trump in the 2024 race. But he may have erased any ill will when he endorsed Trump ahead of the New Hampshire primary, though Nikki Haley launched his Senate career. When Trump highlighted this awkward fact during his primary-night victory speech, Scott delivered some grade-A groveling, telling Trump he doesn’t hate anyone, “I just love you!”
“LOOK” CHECK: Did Tim Scott get engaged to his mystery girlfriend, Mindy Noce, then feed the story to the Washington Post in a matter of hours just because he was worried that Trump wouldn’t like the look of a bachelor VP? Maybe!
TRUMP’S STANCE: When asked about potential VP picks in February 2024, Trump mentioned Scott and Noem (though he said he didn’t want people to make “any inference” from the name drop). “A lot of people like Tim Scott — I called him, and I said, ‘You are a much better candidate for me than you are for yourself,’” Trump said, noting that Scott also gave him a “beautiful endorsement.” Scott was among the six people Trump (offhandedly) confirmed are on his shortlist during a February 20 Fox News town hall.
SCOTT’S STANCE: Scott initially claimed he had no interest in being anyone’s VP. But he reversed course in late January 2024, saying “you can take it any way you want” when CNN noted he seemed open to being Trump’s running mate.

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Vivek Ramaswamy could be the best of both worlds for Trump. Demographically, he’s the opposite of the elderly white Florida man: a young Indian American from Ohio. But spiritually, Ramaswamy is Trump’s clone; his presidential campaign was all about railing against “wokeness” and passionately defending the former president. And he was also the co–top pick for VP in the 2024 CPAC straw poll.
CONS: The biotech entrepreneur has no political experience and veered into extremism toward the end of his presidential campaign (for example, he called January 6 an “inside job” and embraced the “great replacement” theory). And the more Americans saw of him, the less they liked him. Shortly after Ramaswamy launched his candidacy last spring, 18 percent of Americans viewed him favorably, while 13 percent viewed him unfavorably, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages. After a campaign performance that many found glib and obnoxious, those numbers flipped. Today his average is 36 percent unfavorable to 24 percent favorable.
LOYALTY CHECK: Ramaswamy praised Trump effusively even when they were primary opponents and demanded that other GOP candidates sign his pledge to pardon Trump. It increasingly seemed that Ramaswamy was running for a spot in Trump’s administration, not the presidency.
“LOOK” CHECK: Can you really picture Trump putting “Ramaswamy” on a bumper sticker?
TRUMP’S STANCE: When asked about Ramaswamy as VP in August 2023, Trump praised his obsequiousness and commented, “He’s got good energy, and he could be in some form of something. I tell ya, I think he’d be very good.” When chants of “VP, VP, VP” broke out for Ramaswamy during a January 2024 rally, Trump responded, “He’s going to be working with us for a long time.” Ramaswamy was among the six people Trump (offhandedly) confirmed are on his shortlist during a February 20 Fox News town hall. However, on March 18 Bloomberg reported that Trump has ruled out Ramaswamy as his running mate: “Trump personally told Ramaswamy he won’t be his vice presidential pick, according to people briefed on the discussion, but is considering him for posts including Homeland Security secretary.”
RAMASWAMY’S STANCE: When asked if he’d be Trump’s running mate hours after ending his own presidential campaign in January, Ramaswamy said he’d “evaluate whatever is best for the future of this country.”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photo: Getty

PROS: Since leaving the Democratic Party in 2022, former U.S. representative Tulsi Gabbard has become a regular at right-wing venues like Fox News and CPAC. She could give the GOP ticket a sheen of bipartisanship, and serve as a credible critic of her old party, which she attacked as “under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness.”
CONS: Gabbard would be a weird and risky Trump pick. She endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and backed Biden in 2020 after ending her own presidential bid.
LOYALTY CHECK: Highly suspect. She hasn’t even endorsed Trump and seemed pretty excited about the possibility of being RFK Jr.’s VP (until he went with Nicole Shanahan).
“LOOK” CHECK: This would be the least weird aspect of Trump picking Gabbard for VP. She’s a young, telegenic woman of color, so she checks multiple boxes on this front.
TRUMP’S STANCE: Trump seemed to confirm he’s considering Gabbard, though he didn’t mention her by name. She was on a list of potential picks suggested to Trump by Laura Ingraham in February; he replied “all of those people are good. They’re all solid.”
GABBARD’S STANCE: When asked in a March 2024 Fox News interview if she’d consider being Trump’s running mate she said, “I would be open to that.”

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

PROS: Selecting Texas governor Greg Abbott as his running mate would amplify Trump’s border-security messaging. He’s repeatedly clashed with the Biden administration over border policy, increasing his national popularity and boosting his job-approval rating in Texas. He’s an experienced politician and a strong fundraiser.
CONS: Some of Abbott’s policies may be too harsh for swing voters. He signed into law one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, and critics say his anti-migrant policies are inhumane.
LOYALTY CHECK: While Abbott isn’t as sycophantic as some other Texas officials, he and Trump generally have a solid relationship.
“LOOK” CHECK: Abbott has used a wheelchair since 1984, when he was paralyzed from the waist down after a tree fell on him while he was jogging. It would be great if this didn’t figure into Trump’s decision, but he has expressed some pretty horrifying views about disabled people.
TRUMP’S STANCE: During a joint interview with Abbott and Trump after their visit to the southern border on February 29, Sean Hannity asked if the governor could be Trump’s running mate. “He’s done a great job,” Trump said. “Yeah, certainly he would be somebody that I would very much consider.” When Hannity asked if he’s on the short list, Trump replied “absolutely.”
ABBOTT’S STANCE: Abbott downplayed the idea of becoming Trump’s VP at a press conference after the border visit. “Obviously, it’s very nice of him to say, but I think you all know that my focus is entirely on the state of Texas,” he said. “As you know, I’m working right now on the midterm-election process. I’ve already talked about that I’ve announced that I’m running for reelection two years from now, and so my commitment is to Texas and I’m staying in Texas.”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Like Noem, Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the first woman elected to lead her state. And like Stefanik, the 41-year-old is one of the youngest and most well-known women in the GOP, so she could theoretically help Trump win over suburban women. Plus, Trump’s former White House press secretary already has plenty of experience defending his record.
CONS: Will suburban women love Sanders’s aggressively pro-life stance? Perhaps not. Also, Sanders isn’t very popular, even in Arkansas. A recent poll found her job-approval rating is only 48 percent, the lowest for any governor in the state since her father Mike Huckabee’s rating of 47 percent in 2003. And the scandal over her office’s purchase of a $19,000 podium is ongoing.
LOYALTY CHECK: While Sanders remained neutral in the 2024 GOP primary longer than some other VP contenders, she eventually endorsed Trump in November 2023, describing him as “my former boss, my friend, and everybody’s favorite president.”
“LOOK” CHECK: It seems she meets Trump’s standards as she served as the face of his administration for two years.
TRUMP’S STANCE: He endorsed Sanders’s gubernatorial bid but didn’t say anything positive about her while denying reports that she initially declined to back his 2024 campaign.
SANDERS’S STANCE: When asked about the prospect of serving as VP on Face the Nation in January 2024, Sanders said, “Look, I absolutely love the job I have. I think it’s one of the best jobs I could ever ask for, and I am honored to serve as governor, and I hope I get to do it for the next seven years.” So either she’s trying to play it cool or she genuinely isn’t interested.

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Trump needs to win Ohio again in 2024. Who better to help him than J.D. Vance, the state’s freshman senator, who literally wrote the book on the MAGA base (at least in the view of bewildered liberals who turned to Hillbilly Elegy after Trump’s 2016 win)?
CONS: A lot of people, actually. Trump won Ohio twice without Vance’s help. And in the 2022 Senate race, Vance’s campaigning and fundraising skills were unimpressive. That November he “underperformed the eight other Republicans on the statewide ballot by more than 11 points,” as the Washington Post noted. His current term ends in 2029, so his exit might ruin the GOP’s effort to retake the Senate.
LOYALTY CHECK: In 2016, Vance declared himself a “Never Trump guy” and wondered if Trump might be “America’s Hitler.” Then during his 2022 Senate campaign he underwent a stunning MAGA conversion. Trump remarked at a 2022 Vance rally, “J.D. is kissing my ass he wants my support so much.” More recently, Vance said he would have rejected Biden-won states’ electoral votes on January 6 if he had been in Mike Pence’s shoes.
“LOOK” CHECK: If Trump really is looking for a woman or a person of color, Vance obviously isn’t his guy.
TRUMP’S STANCE: Although Trump campaigned for Vance in 2022, he’s never seemed that impressed with his belated turn to Trumpism. At another midterms rally, Trump said of Vance, “He’s a guy that said some bad shit about me … But I have to do what I have to do.”
VANCE’S STANCE: While campaigning for Trump in January 2024, he said, “The best place for me is to actually be an advocate of the agenda in the United States Senate.” But he added, “Certainly, if the president asked, I would have to think about it, because I want to help him.”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: The former TV-news anchor turned Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is such an effective MAGA cheerleader that The Atlantic proclaimed her the “leading lady” of Trumpism. She also won a straw poll for Republican VP pick at CPAC.
CONS: Lake lost Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial election for the GOP (though, like Trump, she baselessly cast herself as the victim of election fraud). She’s currently running in the 2024 Arizona Senate race, which would seem to take her out of the running for VP. (However, Vanity Fair reports that her frequent trips out of state have fueled speculation that she still has her eye on VP.)
LOYALTY CHECK: Is it possible to love Trump too much? Lake seems to be on a mission to find out. She’s openly gushed about his “BDE” and personally vacuumed a red carpet for Trump.
“LOOK” CHECK: She’s undeniably telegenic and may be what AI would churn out if asked to conjure the perfect MAGA running mate.
TRUMP’S STANCE: In January 2024, Trump said Lake would be wonderful — in the Senate. “She’s terrific,” Trump said at a rally. “She’ll be a senator — a great senator, I predict, right? You’re going to be a great senator.”
LAKE’S STANCE: In November 2023, her campaign spokesperson said she’s “focused on winning her Senate race in Arizona. And she looks forward to casting her vote in Arizona for president Trump and whoever he selects as VP.”

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Getty

PROS: Katie Britt, a freshman senator from Alabama, is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate. She is also the only mother of school-aged children in the Senate Republican Conference. She has a son in eighth grade and a daughter in ninth grade with her husband, Wesley Britt, a former offensive tackle for the New England Patriots. Britt raised her national profile when she came out in favor of legal protections for IVF when an Alabama Supreme Court ruling shut down IVF services in the state, then delivered the GOP response to Biden’s 2024 State of the Union address.
CONS: Britt’s SOTU response was terrible. “It’s one of our biggest disasters ever,” a GOP strategist told the Daily Beast. Also, she has held public office for less than a year and Trump doesn’t need her help to win Alabama.
LOYALTY CHECK: As former chief of staff to longtime senator Richard Shelby, Britt has a rather “swampy” past. But she managed to get Trump’s endorsement over his crony Mo Brooks in 2022, going on to win her former boss’s seat when he retired.
“LOOK CHECK”: On paper, Britt is exactly who the GOP wants as the face of the party. But she probably ruined her VP chances with her poor delivery of the GOP SOTU rebuttal.
TRUMP’S STANCE: Trump hasn’t said anything about Britt as a potential running mate.
BRITT’S STANCE: She dodged the question when CBS News This Morning asked about her VP aspirations in November 2023, saying, “Oh, goodness, I’m just working hard in the U.S. Senate.”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Standing next to two-term Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene could make Trump look sane and measured.
CONS: Her selection would turn the 2024 election into a national debate over the capabilities of secret Jewish space lasers.
LOYALTY CHECK: She’s arguably Trump’s most rabid defender in Congress. And if any of her colleagues do argue with her, she may call them a “little bitch.”
“LOOK” CHECK: Picking the QAnon congresswoman would definitely be a wild look for the Trump campaign, but that has nothing to do with her appearance.
TRUMP’S STANCE: He’s clearly a huge MTG fan — he’s publicly called her “brilliant” and “a badass” — but that doesn’t mean he’s making her VP. Several Trump-world sources told Rolling Stone that he’s not “stupid enough” to make her his running mate.
GREENE’S STANCE: She’s openly fanned the “MTG for VP” speculation. In August 2023, she told The Guardian, “It’s talked about frequently and I know my name is on a list but really my biggest focus right now is serving the district that elected me.” That same month, she mused to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “I have a lot of things to think about. Am I going to be a part of President Trump’s Cabinet if he wins? Is it possible that I’ll be VP?”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: Pundit Tucker Carlson was a pillar of the Fox News prime-time lineup until he was fired in April 2023, so he’d bring a huge amount of star power to the Trump campaign. Also, Melania Trump reportedly likes him as VP.
CONS: Carlson is beloved by the “most nativist, paranoid, and bigoted constituents in the Republican Party,” as Jonathan Chait put it. But swing voters might not be as charmed by a guy who’s embraced the “great replacement” theory by name. Also, the last thing Trump wants is a running mate who might outshine him.
LOYALTY CHECK: Though he later backtracked, we learned from the Fox News–Dominion Voting Systems defamation suit that Tucker told colleagues via text that he sees Trump as a “demonic force” and a “destroyer,” adding, “I hate him passionately.” So let’s put him down as “not that loyal.”
“LOOK” CHECK: If Trump is okay with seeing a lot of memes featuring his running mate’s “dumbfounded face,” Carlson should be fine.
TRUMP’S STANCE: When asked about Carlson for VP in November 2023, Trump responded, “I like Tucker a lot. I guess I would consider him. He’s got great common sense.” In January 2024, Donald Trump Jr. said the Carlson was still “on the table” and he “would certainly be a contender” for VP.
CARLSON’S STANCE: He seemed to shoot down the idea in a December 2023 interview, saying, “I just don’t think I’m really suited for that. I mean, would anyone want to see a guy like me run for office?”

Graphic: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty

PROS: He pitched himself to Republicans as a less erratic, not dumb Trump clone. So who better to step up if Trump becomes incapacitated?
CONS: DeSantis embarrassed himself by running an incompetent 2024 presidential campaign. Putting two demagogic Florida men on the GOP ticket doesn’t make any sense — and it may even be unconstitutional!
LOYALTY CHECK: DeSantis fails this crucial test. He grudgingly bent the knee to Trump by endorsing him as he dropped out of the race days before the New Hampshire primary. That may be enough to serve in a future Trump administration but he hasn’t groveled hard enough to be VP.
“LOOK” CHECK: Nobody wants a VP who eats pudding with his hands.
TRUMP’S STANCE: DeSantis was one of the six people Trump (offhandedly) confirmed are on his shortlist during a February 20 Fox News town hall, which is the only reason there’s been a surge in “DeSantis for VP” chatter.
DeSANTIS’S STANCE: DeSantis seemingly took himself out of the running a day later when he said on a private call to supporters, “I am not doing that,” then made some lightly insulting remarks about Trump, the people running his campaign, and the right-wing media in general.

This post has been updated throughout.

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