In an unscientific poll from May 8-22, voters weighed in on who would make a good running mate for Donald Trump this November. The poll included eight possible VP contenders and allowed respondents to rank up to 5 candidates.

The Trump campaign is likely planning to use its VP pick as an opportunity to solidify his support among Republicans who previously voted for him, as well as potentially expanding his voter base. Polling that lets respondents rank multiple candidates gives us more insight about which candidates might be the strongest picks.

J.D. Vance is the first choice of 24% of respondents, putting him at the top of the list. Other strong contenders include Glenn Youngkin with 17%, Ben Carson with 17%, and Tim Scott with 16%. 

We also conducted an “instant runoff” tabulation to determine which candidate would get the most support if others were eliminated from contention – a consensus conservative choice that most voters support. In an instant runoff, Tim Scott pulls ahead of Vance in the final round, 51%-49%. 

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Instant runoff results

Tim Scott makes up most of the ground against Vance when Glenn Youngkin is eliminated. Nearly 50% of Youngkin supporters ranked Scott as a second choice, while other Youngkin voters were split between Carson and Vance. 

In the final round when Ben Carson is eliminated, Scott again gets a boost over Vance. 57% of Carson supporters ranked Scott as a backup, compared to 43% who ranked Vance. 

Consensus support

By examining lower rankings, we can unearth additional insight about which candidates are popular as a backup choice, and who is more polarizing. 

A key to Tim Scott’s victory in the instant runoff is visible by the third ranking. While J.D. Vance leads in first choices, Scott’s popularity as a third choice is what helped him catch up. 

Glenn Youngkin trails by this metric. Although he performs well among first choices, he is among the candidates most often left off ballots entirely. 

By contrast, Byron Donalds looks strong. He only earns 10% of first choices, he is just as popular as the leading candidates as a backup choice. 

Identifying coalitions within the party

Among poll respondents who selected each candidate as their first choice, below are the share who ranked other candidates in their top three choices. 

There is significant crossover between voters who support Scott, Carson, and Youngkin. These candidates’ brands could be considered more positive and focused on presenting an aspirational vision for the future. 

Scott ranked in top 3Vance ranked in top 3Carson ranked in top 3Youngkin ranked in top 3Donalds ranked in top 3Rubio ranked in top 3Mace ranked in top 3Blackburn ranked in top 3
Sen. Tim Scott33%26%31%28%35%12%27%
Sen. JD Vance19%43%17%47%15%15%19%
Dr. Ben Carson35%34%15%38%8%14%24%
Gov. Glenn Youngkin56%18%22%9%59%12%12%
Rep. Byron Donalds46%58%27%6%19%15%15%
Sen. Marco Rubio53%16%22%56%13%16%13%
Rep. Nancy Mace33%26%19%7%37%22%56%
Sen. Marsha Blackburn20%47%40%13%27%13%40%

For front-runners Scott and Vance, there is no one candidate who was ranked as a backup choice by at least half of voters – although many Vance supporters rank Carson and Donalds high on their ballots. However, there is more clear crossover between Youngkin and Rubio. 59% of Youngkin voters ranked Rubio in their top three choices; 56% of Rubio supporters did the same for Youngkin.

Poll methodology

The poll was conducted online with It is an unscientific poll and was promoted through conservative organizations including the John Fredericks Radio Network and 60 Plus Association. Responses were collected between May 8 and May 22, 2024. The poll is still accepting responses, but this analysis only reflects votes that were cast by May 22. There are 476 responses in the poll.