Trump's rivals for the 2020 Republican nomination are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to name recognition

In this Aug. 15, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Manchester, N.H.  Trump's rally in North Carolina Monday will serve as a measure of his clout in trying to elect a Republican to the House. In addition, his appearance Monday will be his first campaign rally since a tough end of summer that saw slipping poll numbers, warning signs of an economic slowdown, and a running battle over weather maps. Trump is backing the GOP candidate in a North Carolina special election Tuesday that is considered a toss-up. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Associated Press

  • A new Insider poll found that most Americans have never heard of any of President Donald Trump's three current rivals in the 2020 GOP presidential primary.
  • Fewer than a third of conservatives polled had heard of any of Trump's Republican challengers.
  • Former Gov. Mark Sanford had the highest name recognition of Trump's challengers: 30.1% of conservative respondents said they had heard of him.
  • As a benchmark, more than 86% of those who leaned politically conservative said they had heard of Trump.
  • Business Insider's GOP presidential debate will run from 7 PM to 8:30 PM EST on September 24, and will be exclusively live-streamed on Business Insider Today's Facebook Watch page.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Three contenders are challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP presidential primary, but most conservatives say they have never heard of any of them.

A new Insider poll found that the rivals - former Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, and former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts - have significantly less name recognition than Trump.
The poll asked more than 1,100 American adults to select the Republican primary contenders they had ever heard of, in addition to the option of "I have not heard of any of these people." (Six percent of Americans said they had never heard of any 2020 Republican candidates, including Trump.)

Eighty-seven percent of overall respondents had heard of Trump - though the president is unambiguously one of the most well-known people in America, polling isn't compulsory and it's rare to get much higher than 90% on questions like these for even well-known figures. Just one-third of respondents had heard of the next most-recognized candidate, former Rep. Joe Walsh, a conservative radio show host who served one term in the House beginning in 2011.

Among conservatives polled, Trump's name recognition is even stronger by comparison. Eighty-six percent of respondents who self-identify as "slightly" to "very" conservative said they had heard of Trump, compared to 30.1% recognition for the next most well-known candidate, former Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, whose campaign is focused on bringing down the national debt.

Twenty-nine percent of conservative respondents had heard of former Rep. Joe Walsh, and only 18% said they had heard of former Gov. Bill Weld.

While the forecast may not look favorable for Trump's competitors, a sizable contingent of Republicans haven't dismissed the prospect of a qualified opponent. An Insider poll conducted in April found that 42% of right-leaning respondents are open to considering another qualified Republican candidate, and a quarter would even support a challenger over Trump. Nonetheless, Gallup polls have shown that Trump's approval rating has consistently hovered around a staggering 90% among Republicans throughout 2019 - and sitting presidents rarely lose their party's nomination for a second term.

On Tuesday, two will face off in the first GOP primary debate of the race, hosted by Business Insider. If they can raise their profiles enough to capture the attention of the conservative factions who are on the fence about Trump, they might just stand a chance of posing a credible threat.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. Total 1,142 respondents collected September 17 - September 18, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 2.98 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

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Business Insider's GOP presidential debate will run from 7 PM to 8:30 PM EST on September 24, and will be exclusively live-streamed on Business Insider Today's Facebook Watch page.