The ex-president led his opponent by 30 points in an Emerson College survey of likely GOP primary voters released on Tuesday. Mr DeSantis was supported by 25 per cent of respondents to Mr Trump’s 55 per cent, a sign of both the ex-president’s continued political strength as well as the rapidly growing star power of the Florida governor in GOP circles.
It’s a significant poll because it comes in the midst of a wave of attacks aimed at the former president from the anti-Trump wing of the GOP. Furious over a lacklustre midterm showing that saw the party fail to take the Senate and carve out only a razor-thin majority in the House, conservative elites as well as elections experts are blaming Republicans’ bad night on hardline conservative candidates who ran as Trump loyalists.
Mr Trump celebrated the poll results in a Truth Social post on Tuesday, quipping that he was sure his critics in the GOP would be “thrilled” to see him continuing to lead Mr DeSantis.
“For all RINOS [Republicans in Name Only], Never Trumpers, Radical Left Democrats and, of course, the Fake News Media, please enjoy this latest poll from highly respected Emerson College,” he wrote.
Mr Trump announced his 2024 bid for president at Mar-a-Lago last week, flanked by members of his family and loyalists in the GOP like Madison Cawthorn. But there were notable absences from the announcement, including that of his own daughter and former White House aide, Ivanka Trump.
Should Mr DeSantis not end up running, a number of other likely Republican 2024 contenders are circling the waters as well, including former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
But as Emerson pollsters noted, “[n]o other candidate reaches double-digit support for the Republican” nomination for president.
The Emerson poll included results from 1,380 registered Republican voters on 18-19 November. The poll’s margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.