DeSantis surges versus Trump in new UNH poll

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Jun. 23—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has drawn even with former President Donald Trump among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, according to a University of New Hampshire poll.

DeSantis had more support than Trump in head-to-head matchups against President Joe Biden among all likely voters, the UNH Survey Center found in the poll, in which 845 likely voters took part online June 16-20.

In this new Granite State Poll, DeSantis had 39% support, compared to 37% for Trump.

When UNH polled on the same issue last October, Trump led DeSantis, 43%-18%.

Trailing behind the two leading Republicans in the June poll were former Vice President Mike Pence (9%), ex-United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley (6%) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and South Dakota Gov. Kristen Noem (1% apiece).

The statewide poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.2%.

Survey Center Director Andrew Smith said the surge for DeSantis reflects a common dynamic.

"Trump slipping in pre-primary polls is part of a typical pattern," Smith said in a statement.

"A party's losing candidate in the prior election is typically the best-known person in their party. As the primary gets closer, new candidates emerge and attract more media attention, and therefore more attention, than the losing candidate from the previous election."

In the most recent poll, Biden led Trump, 50% to 43%, while DeSantis narrowly led Biden, 47% to 46%.

Trump and DeSantis have had a prickly relationship in recent months.

Politico reported Wednesday that sources close to DeSantis said the governor is not asking Trump to support his campaign for reelection this November.

Smith said most voters were not looking forward to a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024 and would prefer Republicans and Democrats nominate new candidates.

Only 29% said they want Biden to seek a second term, though he had the support of 65% of Democrats who answered that question.

As for Trump, 30% overall want him to try to run again in two years. Among Republicans, 62% want Trump to run again, while only 19% of independents want him to try to make a comeback.

Asked to give their second choice for a candidate, likely Republican primary voters picked DeSantis first with 30%. Trump got 24%, followed by Haley (7%) and Cruz (5%).

Trump has yet to endorse any candidates for major office in New Hampshire.

Trump has encouraged other Republicans to mount a primary challenge against Gov. Chris Sununu, who has been dismissive of Trump's role in Republican Party successes in the upcoming midterm elections here.

Among GOP primary voters, 47% said a Trump endorsement would make them more likely to support that candidate, 43% said it would have no impact on their decision, 7% said they'd be less likely to support that candidate, and 3% were unsure.

klandrigan@unionleader.com