Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trailing former President Donald Trump by a stunning 46 points in a hypothetical 2024 GOP primary race, according to a new Emerson College survey, marking the worst poll numbers for DeSantis since Trump announced his candidacy in November.
DeSantis netted 16% support from voters in a hypothetical GOP primary matchup with Trump and five other candidates, according to the poll of 1,100 voters conducted between April 24 and 25 (margin of error 2.9).
The Florida governor has lost nine points since Emerson’s February poll, while Trump has gained seven points for a total of 62%.
The polls are the latest sign that Trump is the clear front-runner in the GOP presidential primary race, despite a string of controversies since announcing his third run for the White House, including his indictment in Manhattan Criminal Court earlier this month, which Trump has used to rally his voter base and fellow Republicans by casting the investigation as a political “witch hunt.”
DeSantis, meanwhile, has suffered a series of political blows in recent weeks, including the majority of Florida’s GOP congressional delegation endorsing Trump, unflattering stories about his unfriendly behavior, and a Disney lawsuit against the state over DeSantis’ retaliation against the company as part of his ongoing culture wars.
Trump has extended his lead over DeSantis in recent months after trailing him in some polls shortly after announcing his candidacy. DeSantis, at the time, was riding high off a strong midterm election win, where he was the first GOP gubernatorial candidate to win Miami-Dade County since Jeb Bush in 2002. Trump, meanwhile, was facing a barrage of criticism for the party’s worse-than-expected midterm performance, a controversial dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and call to abolish parts of the Constitution. But Trump has managed to weather the controversies and flip the script on the various investigations against him, while DeSantis is struggling to net support among his fellow Republicans. The entrance of other candidates in the race also appears to be contributing to the widening gap between Trump and DeSantis. Emerson’s February poll did not include Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur who announced his campaign in late February; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been on a media blitz in recent weeks discussing his potential candidacy; or former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who formally announced his campaign Wednesday.
What To Watch For
DeSantis plans to launch a presidential exploratory committee in May, followed by a formal campaign announcement in mid-June, according to multiple reports.
GOP mega donors are shying away from both Trump and DeSantis. New York grocery store and real estate magnate John Catsimatidis became the latest Republican heavyweight on Wednesday to say he wouldn’t back DeSantis, citing his penchant for failing to return phone calls, the Washington Examiner reported. Citadel hedge fund founder Ken Griffin has also grown increasingly uncertain about DeSantis after declaring his support for the Florida governor shortly after his midterm election win, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Other GOP mega donors who previously supported Trump have also defected from the ex-president, including billionaire Estée Lauder heir Ronald Lauder, whose spokesperson told CNBC in November he wouldn’t support Trump, and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who told Axios after the midterm election he plans to support a 2024 Republican presidential candidate who is part of a “new generation of leaders.”
41%. That’s President Joe Biden’s job approval rating in the latest Emerson poll, down three points from February. Biden, who announced Tuesday he would seek re-election, leads both Trump and DeSantis in hypothetical 2024 general election matchups, by two points and six points, respectively, Emerson found.
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