In the 2024 Republican primaries for the White House, money matters. Polling too. Viral debate moments. Recommendations. But there is one other ingredient that has helped make this a race unlike any other: the road.
Many of Donald J. Trump's rivals have far surpassed him during the campaign period, in terms of days spent on the road. But their prolific campaigns have not changed the dynamics of the race or the polls, which Trump still dominates. An analysis by DailyExpertNews shows that who is at the top and who is at the bottom of the polls is out of sync with who has hit the campaign trail the fastest. As the Republican front-runner, Trump has been one of the most uneven campaigners, while one of the closest long shots has been the busiest.
Mr. Trump has spent fewer than half as many days campaigning as Vivek Ramaswamy, the Trumpian entrepreneur who has spent the most days campaigning.
The Times has spent more than a year following the candidates and their planned events across the country and in early voting states. The analysis counted the number of days spent campaigning rather than individual appearances. So if a candidate appeared six times on the same day, those appearances counted as one day.
As of Tuesday, Mr. Trump had campaigned for 55 days, compared with 145 days by Mr. Ramaswamy. No candidate has covered the map more than Mr. Ramaswamy, the first millennial Republican to run for president. While he spent 100 days in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Ramaswamy also mapped out a larger national footprint, visiting Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland and other states that some of his rivals have bypassed.
Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, campaigned for 87 days, the second-highest total among Republican contenders. Ms. Haley spent 70 of those days in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, her home state. Her agenda is similar to that of Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, who campaigned for 84 days but failed to qualify for the recent debates and is polling at less than 1 percent.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has fallen in the national polls, a decline often cited by his skeptics. His standard response to them was basically: wait until Iowa. His campaign announced Saturday that he had visited all 99 Iowa counties, where The Times found he spent 28 of his total 79 campaign days. His scheme stands out in another way: violating campaign norms. His super PAC, Never Back Down, coordinated at least 35 of his total days on the trail, handling the kind of logistics that are traditionally the work not of outside groups but of the campaigns themselves and that put campaign finance laws to the test stilt.
Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and Trump critic, has all but written off Iowa and its more conservative electorate, which remains fiercely loyal to the 45th president. He has instead focused on New Hampshire, where he has spent 22 of his total 35 days campaigning as he looks to build momentum among the state's independent-minded Republicans.