New poll places Trump firmly ahead of DeSantis

Former president has turned his fire squarely on the former governor as media coverage swirls around DeSantis 2024 speculation

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 16 March 2023 16:32 GMT
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Donald Trump remains firmly on top of the Republican field for 2024, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday.

The survey showed the former president with a strong lead over his most competitive potential 2024 rival, the undeclared Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, in both head-to-head matchups and broader contests with other Republicans in the field.

In a direct contest, Mr Trump took 51 per cent of voters in the survey, while Mr DeSantis was at 40 per cent. Once other candidates are added to the mix, Mr Trump’s lead over Mr DeSantis grows; in that scenario, 46 per cent of voters support Mr Trump and 32 per cent support Mr DeSantis.

It’s a strong sign for Mr Trump as he shifts back into campaign gear; the former president held his first rally of the new year on Monday in Iowa, the site of the GOP’s first primary contest.

Mr DeSantis had been rising in some polling of the prospective 2024 Republican field for months, causing a swell of news coverage and attracting the attention of the former president. Since then, Mr Trump has focused much of his fire against the Florida governor, and over trashed Mr DeSantis in three mediums: At his Iowa rally, in conversations to reporters on his plane, and through video messages released on his Truth Social platform.

It’s an all-out assault that makes clear the Trump camp firmly believes that Mr DeSantis is in the presidential race, albeit unofficially. On Wednesday, the Make America Great Again PAC filed a complaint with a Florida ethics authority accusing the governor of running a “shadow” campaign for the nomination and called for an investigation.

Mr DeSantis has played coy about his 2024 plans, but in recent weeks has been seen speaking at a number of nationally minded Republican groups around the country, including in some early primary states. He also continues to fight a very public culture war in his home state of Florida and has taken a number of actions as governor which have seemed to be engineered to attract the attention of a national Republican audience.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is the only other prominent Republican other than Mr Trump currently vying for the nomination in an official manner; others, however, like former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Tim Scott, and former national security adviser John Bolton are thought to also be preparing presidential bids.

Ms Haley received the support of 5 per cent of the Quinnipiac poll’s respondents; Mr Pence received 3 per cent. Other prospective candidates failed to clear the poll’s margin of error, which was 3.8 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac survey collected results from 677 Republican or Republican-leaning voters between 9-13 March.

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