DeSantis drops to lowest support in GOP polls as clashes with Trump turn nasty

DeSantis’s numbers fall amid criticism from Trump and his remarks about Ukraine.

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 21 March 2023 20:04 GMT
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ support in a potential Republican presidential primary has dropped to its lowest yet as he faces a torrent of criticism from establishment Republicans for his remarks on Ukraine and attacks from Donald Trump, according to a new poll.

The Morning Consult survey found that a 54 per cent of potential GOP primary voters support former president Donald Trump, who announced his candidacy for 2024 in November.

Slightly less than half of them support Mr DeSantis, who has yet to announce his candidacy, at 26 per cent, his lowest level since The Morning Consult began tracking his numbers in December 2022.

Mr DeSantis has faced criticism from both establishment Republicans and Mr Trump in recent weeks. Last week, Mr DeSantis sparked outrage among some in his party when he responded to a questionnaire from Fox News host Tucker Carlson by calling the war between Russia and Ukraine a “territorial dispute”. Mr DeSantis said that it was not in the national interest of the United States to support Ukraine.

While 49 per cent of all voters say that supporting Ukraine against Russia’s assault on the country is a vital interest of the United States, only 37 per cent of potential Republican primary voters say the same. By comparison, 46 per cent of potential GOP primary voters say it is not a vital US interest compared to 46 per cent of the general electorate.

Similarly, only 33 per cent of Republicans say that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an important issue to them, compared to 38 per cent of the general electorate; and it polls near the bottom of issues Republicans consider important, below abortion and only slightly above climate change.

Conversely, the former president has turned his gaze toward the governor of his state. During a speech in Davenport, Iowa, Mr Trump tested out his nicknames for Mr DeSantis such as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

The poll completed before Mr DeSantis made his remarks where he said he would not get involved “in any way” with Mr Trump’s potential indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office for paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their alleged affair.

“Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair, I can’t speak to that,” he said. “But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try and do something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursing a political agenda.”

But since then, Mr Trump and his supporters have repeatedly criticised the governor and onetime protege of Mr Trump, with Mr Trump lobbing a crude homophobic insult toward him.

The Morning Consult surveyed 3,394 Republican primary voters between 17 March and 19 March with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

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