A new poll shows Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida with a wide lead over former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, with most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents not wanting Trump to run again, a departure from other polls that show Trump ahead.
Around 56% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters selected DeSantis as their top pick to be the party’s nominee in the general election, while just 33% preferred Trump, according to USA Today, which sponsored the poll conducted by Suffolk University. The 23% lead is among the widest deficits that Trump has seen in recent polls following the announcement of his 2024 presidential campaign in November.
Additionally, 61% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters stated that they want somebody other than Trump to run for the nomination, while just 31% said they wanted him to run. “Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump,” said David Paleologos of Suffolk’s Political Research Center.
Separately, DeSantis has better odds of beating President Joe Biden in 2024, should he run for reelection, according to the poll. It showed DeSantis beating Biden in a general election by a 5-point margin, 47% to 42%, while showing Trump losing to Biden by 7 points.
The gulf in support portends a significant problem for Trump, 76, as he seeks another term in office. Both Trump’s presidential campaign and general political influence have been questioned by Republicans following the results of the 2022 midterm elections, in which Trump played a significant role, but in which Republicans underperformed significantly and failed to win control of the Senate.
Trump-endorsed candidates ran in key battleground Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania, beating out more moderate candidates who some GOP leaders claimed could have won. The same was true in the House, where several Trump-endorsed candidates lost, and where the GOP’s slim majority of 222 seats is posing problems for the conference leadership, particularly the efforts of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California to gain enough votes for the speakership.
By contrast, DeSantis has garnered acclaim from Republicans for his landslide reelection victory in November, winning by a 19% margin in a swing state, and for his advocacy of conservative policies in Florida – including the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, parental rights in education, critique of transgender ideology and reprisals against progressive corporate activity, such as that by The Walt Disney Company.
While DeSantis remains Republican voters’ top choice, other than Trump, for the nomination across multiple polls, other politicians such as former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, are believed to be preparing to run for the nomination.
The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters and 374 Republicans or Republican-leaning independents; that sample had a margin of error of 5.1 points.
Trump and DeSantis’ offices did not respond to a request for comment.
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