Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott speaks at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 14, 2023.
CNN  — 

Can the nice guy finish first?

That’s the question a lot of analysts are asking about the Republican race for president, with headlines such as “Tim Scott is turning heads with donors and early-state voters” and “Tim Scott’s formidable charm meets a tough Republican electorate.”

While the South Carolina senator remains well behind front-runner Donald Trump in the national horserace polls, a number of key indicators – from favorability ratings to early-state polling to fundraising – suggest Scott may be the GOP candidate to watch besides the former president or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Right now, most of the Republican hopefuls are not well known. Many voters will start paying attention as the debates begin and the primaries draw closer.

To see how these voters may react down the line, it can be helpful to see what’s going on among those who are already watching the race closely. Voters in this group seem to like what they’re seeing and hearing from Scott.

Take a look at the most recent Quinnipiac University poll that asked about all the GOP candidates’ favorable ratings. Among Republicans who had formed an opinion of DeSantis, Scott and Trump, Scott was the most popular. His favorability rating of 89% beat Trump’s 82% and DeSantis’ 81%.

A high favorability rating is far from a guarantee that a candidate will do well. After all, DeSantis and Trump have similar ratings on this score, and Trump is crushing the Florida governor in the polls.

But a high favorable rating