Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally with supporters, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. March 13, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Donald Trump is extending his lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who will likely start as the former president’s top competitor in the 2024 Republican presidential primary if he runs, according to a poll of a potential GOP field released Wednesday.
Quinnipiac University’s latest survey of Republican and Republican-leaning voters found Trump winning 46% of support in a hypothetical GOP primary field, with DeSantis receiving 32%.
That’s a welcome change for Trump, who held just a 6-percentage-point lead over DeSantis in Quinnipiac’s February poll of the prospective primary field. The ex-president led his possible rival by a 42% to 36% margin at the time.
Asked in the new poll who they would support in a head-to-head matchup between Trump and DeSantis, 51% of respondents chose the former president, versus 40% who picked the governor.
“DeSantis might be the buzz in the GOP conversation, but for now Trump is seeing no erosion and, in fact, enjoys a bump in his lead in the Republican primary,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement.
Quinnipiac’s results from 677 Republican and Republican-leaning voters carried a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.
The new poll comes as DeSantis faces intensifying fire from Trump and other presidential contenders as his national profile grows. The Florida governor has not yet announced his widely expected presidential campaign, but he has taken several early steps to signal he could launch a bid soon.
At a campaign rally in Iowa on Monday, Trump slammed DeSantis over his record on ethanol, an angle that appeared to fizzle among the crowd of his supporters in the nation’s largest corn-producing state.
Earlier Wednesday, a pro-Trump super PAC announced it was asking a Florida ethics panel to investigate DeSantis and possibly disqualify him from the ballot if he 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 Russia’s invasion was not a “vital” U.S. interest. DeSantis’ remarks even garnered criticism from numerous Republican senators.
Haley, the former South Carolina governor who launched her presidential bid last month, received 5% of support in Quinnipiac’s latest poll. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is considering a White House run, got 3% of the respondents’ support.
None of the 11 other candidates in the poll’s hypothetical GOP primary field received more than 2% of the remaining support.
Among the 1,635 overall registered voters surveyed in the latest poll, 49% said they would vote for President Joe Biden over Trump if the 2024 election was held today. Another 45% said they would back the former president over the Democratic incumbent.
However, respondents almost perfectly split their support in a hypothetical matchup between Biden and DeSantis. In that possible race, 47% backed the president, while 46% supported the governor.
The questions for the self-identified registered voters had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
Biden is expected to run for reelection, potentially setting him up for a rematch with Trump, who lost in 2020. Quinnipiac found that larger shares of registered voters have negative views than hold positive views of Biden, Trump, DeSantis, Pence and Haley.