Trump grows lead over DeSantis

Trump grows lead over DeSantis

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa, March 13, 2023.

Jonathan Ernest | Reuters

Donald Trump is extending his lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is likely to start as the former president’s top contender in the 2024 Republican presidential primary if he runs, according to a poll of a potential GOP field released Wednesday.

Quinnipiac University’s most recent poll of Republican and Republican-leaning voters found Trump received 46% of support in a hypothetical GOP primary field, while DeSantis received 32%.

That’s a welcome change for Trump, who had a mere 6 percentage point lead over DeSantis in Quinnipiac’s February survey of likely primary field. The ex-president then led his possible rival by a margin of 42% to 36%.

In the new poll, when asked who they would support in a head-to-head between Trump and DeSantis, 51% of respondents chose the former president, versus 40% who chose the governor.

“DeSantis may be making waves in the GOP conversation, but right now Trump isn’t seeing any erosion and is actually enjoying an increase in his lead in the Republican primary,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement.

Quinnipiac’s results of 677 Republican and Republican-leaning voters had a 3.8 percentage point margin of error.

The new poll comes as DeSantis faces increasing fire from Trump and other presidential candidates as its national profile rises. The Florida governor has yet to announce his widely-anticipated presidential campaign, but he has taken some early steps to signal he could launch a bid soon.

At a campaign rally in Iowa on Monday, Trump beat DeSantis over his ethanol record, an angle that seemed to fizzle out in the crowd of his supporters in the nation’s largest corn-producing state.

Earlier Wednesday, a pro-Trump super PAC announced that it is asking a Florida ethics panel to investigate DeSantis and potentially disbar him from voting if it is found to have violated state laws.

Meanwhile, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, another GOP presidential candidate, accused DeSantis of “copying” Trump after he said this week that defending Ukraine against the Russian invasion is not a “vital” interest of the USA. DeSantis’ comments were even criticized by numerous Republican senators.

Haley, the former South Carolina governor who released her presidential candidacy last month, received 5% approval in Quinnipiac’s most recent poll. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is considering running for the White House, received 3% support.

None of the 11 other candidates in the poll’s hypothetical GOP primary field received more than 2% of the remaining support.

Of the 1,635 registered voters polled in the latest poll, 49% said they would vote for President Joe Biden over Trump if the 2024 election were held today. Another 45% said they would support the former president over the Democratic incumbent.

However, respondents split their support almost perfectly in a hypothetical matchup between Biden and DeSantis. In this potential race, 47% supported the President while 46% supported the Governor.

The questions for the self-identified registered voters had an error rate of 2.4 percentage points.

Biden is expected to run for re-election, potentially setting him up for a rematch with Trump, who lost in 2020. Quinnipiac found that larger proportions of registered voters hold negative views than positive views of Biden, Trump, DeSantis, Pence, and Haley.