Donald Trump tops Ron DeSantis in Florida primary poll

March 17, 2023

Republican primary voters in Florida slightly prefer Donald Trump to their own governor, a new poll found.

The Emerson College poll released Friday found that 47 percent of Republicans support Trump, compared to 44 percent for Ron DeSantis (R), widely seen as Trump's top rival for the nomination.

The survey is the latest sign of Trump's growing strength in the early stage of the 2024 primary cycle, which has turned into an increasingly bitter feud between the top two contenders.

Trump up in Florida

While Florida voters approve of DeSantis' job performance, that did not translate to an overwhelming preference for the governor among Republicans, the poll found.

Trump's advantage falls just outside the 2.8 percent margin of error.

"While 90% of Republican voters approve of DeSantis, that does not translate into a firewall of support over the former president for the nomination in their home state,” Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling, said.

While Trump beats DeSantis in the primary, DeSantis fares better against Joe Biden, who loses to DeSantis with 43 percent compared to the governor's 46 percent. Trump is tied with Joe Biden in the poll at 44 percent.

DeSantis falls?

The poll is just the latest to reflect Trump's status as the primary frontrunner. Trump has also been showing strength in early primary states like South Carolina and New Hampshire, where he is leading the pack by double-digits in recent polls.

A review of recent polling data by the New York Times found that Trump's lead has been steadily increasing since January, when he was virtually tied with DeSantis in head-to-head matchups.

Trump now leads DeSantis by an average of 12 points, and in a crowded field, Trump's margin has doubled from 10 points to 20 points.

Rivalry intensifies

DeSantis is widely seen as the only serious threat to Trump's path to the nomination, and a rivalry between the two has grown more heated as DeSantis edges closer to stepping into the race.

The governor has been crisscrossing the country on a book tour, stopping recently in Iowa, the traditional first-primary state.

The Trump campaign filed a complaint this week accusing DeSantis, who has not declared his candidacy, of orchestrating a "shadow campaign" in violation of Florida's "resign to run" law.

DeSantis shot back, calling the complaint "frivolous."

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