Trump wins CPAC presidential straw poll as his grip on conservative base remains strong

Former president still dominates conservative base and Ron DeSantis is a distant second

Donald Trump calls Putin ‘smart’ and American leaders ‘dumb’ during CPAC speech

Donald Trump comfortably won a straw poll of conservative activists who were asked their preference for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential candidate.

Some 59 per cent of attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of right wing activists from across the country, voted for Mr Trump.

CPAC latest – live updates

Florida governor Ron DeSantis came second, garnering 28 per cent of the votes, a similar result to last year’s poll. In a list that didn’t include Mr Trump, Mr DeSantis won 61 per cent.

The result showed the firm grasp Mr Trump still has over the Republican base, even after his failed re-election bid and efforts to overturn the results of that vote.

Mr Trump has not yet announced if he will run again in 2024, but he has hinted that he will.

CPAC has traditionally been viewed as a testing ground for rising conservative stars and an event to rally the Republican base. Mr Trump has dominated the straw poll for years now.

The CPAC poll also found that most attendees thought Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2024. Some 22 per cent thought she would be the candidate, ahead of Michelle Obama on 17 per cent, and 14 per cent thought Joe Biden would run again.

Meanwhile, 99 per cent of attendees disapproved of the job Mr Biden was doing as president.

Mr DeSantis is considered Mr Trump’s closest rival, but he has been careful to avoid direct confrontation with the former president.

Palm Beach resident Patricia DeBlasis told The Independent earlier in the week that Mr DeSantis earned fans with his handling of the pandemic.

“He’s only 42-years-old but he’s got the mind and wisdom of someone much older,” she said. “He kept us safe during the pandemic. He’s done all the right things. We didn’t have to wear masks, we didn’t have to get vaccinated.”

But she added: “I don’t think he’ll run for president this time. But it would be great to have him as vice president.”

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