A new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll showed that former President Donald Trump has a 40-point lead on his next-closest competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
In the poll, Trump had 56% support from Republicans, while DeSantis had 16% and former Vice President Mike Pence had 7%.
Trump has hinted about running again for a second term in 2024 since shortly after his loss in 2020, and recently told the New Yorker he was “very close” to making a decision.
He expressed confidence in the outcome, at least of the primary, whether DeSantis runs or not.
A DeSantis rivalry
“I don’t know if Ron is running, and I don’t ask him,” he told the New Yorker. “It’s his prerogative. I think I would win.”
Trump spoke well of DeSantis while he was in office, and helped to bring the governor to national visibility as a strong conservative with similar policies to Trump’s at the state level.
DeSantis has not expressed direct interest in running for president but has not officially ruled it out either.
If Trump does not run in 2024, the poll indicates DeSantis would be the frontrunner by almost 20 points, taking 36% of the vote to Pence’s 17%.
It is still early days, and a lot can happen in the two-and-a-half years until the election. Historically, many early frontrunners have fizzled out over the long campaign season.
Democrats are still hoping to find some criminal culpability in Trump’s actions on January 6, which would allow them to charge him with a crime and hopefully prevent a 2024 run.
DeSantis looks like a weaker candidate at this point, but has shown that he could quickly galvanize a willing electorate. Trump’s faults, including continuing to put negative statements on social media when someone crosses him (formerly mean tweets), may yet get the better of him if his base decides to look for alternatives.
There has already been one poll that showed DeSantis beating Trump narrowly in a primary matchup, but it was in Colorado, hardly a conservative bastion.