It’s Trump and DeSantis, early polling about the 2024 Republican primary shows
Early polling isn’t necessarily the best predictor of a party’s eventual nominee, but does reflect the attention each candidate is getting
Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are tied as Republican voters’ top picks to be their party’s nominee next year, according to a Monmouth University poll.
The poll found Trump and DeSantis lead the field with 33% support. Other potential candidates trailed far behind: Former Vice President Mike Pence received 2% support, while former U.S. Secretary to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ken., and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all received 1% support.
Early polling isn’t necessarily the best predictor of a party’s eventual nominee. A February 2015 CNN poll taken four months before Trump announced his candidacy, for example, had former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leading the field, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and then-Gov. Scott Walker.
“Trump and DeSantis are grabbing most of the media attention, so it is not surprising that most Republican voters do not come up with any names other than these two,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
Haley is expected to become the second Republican to throw her hat into the ring next week. The former South Carolina governor is teasing a “special announcement” next Wednesday in Charleston, S.C.
Haley’s favorable rating among Republicans is strong, according to the poll, but many Republican voters are unfamiliar with her. The poll found 22% have no opinion and 19% have never heard of her.
While DeSantis is an early favorite, Trump gained on him since the last Monmouth University poll in December. Murray said a big question is whether DeSantis can maintain his leading position.
“Both Trump and DeSantis are well-liked by the party’s rank and file, but it’s likely that voter opinion of Trump is more firmly set than it is for DeSantis right now,” he said. “The unknown factor is whether DeSantis can maintain this early edge if and when he gets on the campaign trail.”
The poll found Trump had an 18% unfavorable rating among Republican voters, and DeSantis had a 6% unfavorable rating. Pence’s unfavorable stood at 28%, a sign of the challenges he’d face if he runs.
DeSantis has yet to make a final decision about running for president, but could wait until May when Florida’s state legislative session ends, according to Reuters. He raised $217 million for his 2022 reelection, the record for a U.S. gubernatorial candidate.
DeSantis’ early position has put a target on his back for potential Republican rivals. Trump has criticized him on his social media site, and on Thursday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, another potential 2024 candidate, took a swipe at DeSantis at an event hosted by Politico. Pushing back against being labelled a moderate, Sununu said, “I’m ranked the most fiscally conservative governor in the country. I’m No. 1 in personal freedoms. Sorry, Ron, you’re No. 2.” The Cato Institute, a think tank, has rated New Hampshire the freest state.