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Trump struggles in early 2024 polls — especially against DeSantis

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Former President Donald Trump launched his campaign to return to the White House in 2024 on November 15, just a week after costing his party in arguably the third straight election.

And just about every sign since then confirms that his grip on his party’s nomination continues to dwindle – apparently in large part due to his midterm electoral setback.

We’ve seen relatively few polls on the 2024 campaign since then. But what we’ve seen suggests that Republican-leaning voters are hunkering down on Trump 2024 and increasingly prefer an alternative they see as more eligible — particularly Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Head-to-head is as competitive as it’s ever been. An Economist/YouGov poll last week showed Trump at 36% and DeSantis at 30% in a crowded field.

But when you distill the two-candidate race, the verdict is much less favorable for Trump. Another Economist/YouGov poll from two weeks earlier showed DeSantis up 36-29% in that scenario. A Quinnipiac University poll released in late November showed 44% each among Republicans. And a Marquette University Law School poll actually showed DeSantis a 20-point lead when you include GOP-leaning independents, 60 percent to 40 percent.

While this latest poll isn’t quite up to par, it’s a big departure from other data we’ve seen over the past two years. While polls in major primary states had shown DeSantis arguing against Trump — and even leading in some cases — the national polls had been another matter.

In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling compilation, the first quality national poll this year to show Trump following DeSantis took place November 9-11 – the three days after the 2022 election. Now we have three. more (not counting partisan polls from the Club for Growth and Texas GOP).

If you dig a little deeper into these polls, you begin to see the reasons for the change. Trump’s image is at the low end of where it traditionally ranks among Republicans – but the main reason for the turn in the polls appears to be pragmatism and a desire for someone who can win.

Marist College is another pollster to weigh in after the election. He asked Republican-leaning voters who had a better chance of winning in 2024: Trump or a hypothetical “someone else.” In October 2021, Trump was leading on this measure 50-35. Today, “someone else” leads 54-35.

We also saw “someone else” emerge. DeSantis, fresh from a massive re-election in a former swing state, continues to outvote Trump in a 2024 general election showdown with President Biden.

But it’s not just that Republicans finally see a plausible alternative and worry about Trump’s prospects; there are signs that they got a little soured on what he did for the party. Ahead of the 2022 election, the Quinnipiac Poll showed Republicans saying Trump had a “mostly positive” impact on the party by a 76-point, 85-9 margin. Today, it’s a much smaller margin of 46 points: 70-24.

A strong majority of Republicans still view Trump as someone they like and good for the party as a whole. But that drop above is hard to separate from the 2022 election results. There’s plenty of goodwill left for Trump, but that doesn’t mean voters feel pressured to give him a third chance at the presidency or favor him. to someone with less baggage who always talks about their priorities — in a way, it should be noted, that hardly any other candidate did in 2016.

There’s still a long way to go before the 2024 primaries begin. But we’ve had DeSantis as the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination since August. And the trends that were evident at the time appear to have accelerated thanks to another bad election by Trump and his jaw-dropping decision to move forward immediately despite it.

Maybe that will all change once Trump really gets into the campaign trail or if DeSantis doesn’t run. But it’s a totally inauspicious launch for Trump, devoid of anything resembling an announcement bump — and quite the opposite.



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