Even though Donald Trump has been mired in legal issues and scandals – from the possession of classified documents to a federal indictment and being found liable in the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit – he remains the most popular candidate with GOP voters.
Morning Consult poll results updated Tuesday showed that the former president was an impressive 43 points ahead of the closest challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. While Trump had 61% of Republican voters rooting for him, DeSantis had just 18%.
This is Trump’s “biggest lead” over the other GOP candidates yet, said Morning Consult. It began tracking the 2024 presidential GOP primary race in December, shortly after Trump announced his candidacy in November.
DeSantis, who Trump backed during the 2018 gubernatorial election in Florida, had not officially announced his candidacy as of Wednesday, but he is expected to announce within the coming weeks. Per Morning Consult, his popularity with GOP primary voters slipped six points this week.
In recent months, DeSantis has made headlines for his feud with Disney over Florida’s notorious LGBTQ-related legislation. Just this week, DeSantis signed more legislation into law regarding LGBTQ issues.
According to a press release, the “Let Kids Be Kids bill package to protect Florida’s children from permanent mutilating surgical procedures, gender identity politics in schools, and attending sexually explicit adult performances.”
Additionally, DeSantis announced this week that he would send 1,100 “assets” to Texas following the end of Title 42 COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on immigration.
“Former President Donald Trump began his presidential campaign with the bulk of the Republican electorate behind him, but his grip is being put to the test ahead of the 2024 nominating contests,” said Morning Consult.
Last week, the Trump participated in a CNN town hall where he reiterated his unfounded claims about 2020 election fraud and touched on other topics such as abortion and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Following the event, Trump criticized DeSantis and discussed the governor’s move to approve a six-week abortion ban in Florida.
Audacy reported in March that Trump was considering nicknames for DeSantis, including the moniker “Tiny D.”
Apart from Trump and DeSantis, other GOP contenders tracked by Morning Consult included: former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.S. House member Liz Cheney, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former U.S. House member Asa Hutchinson and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. As DeSantis’ popularity slipped this week, Ramaswamy’s favorability appeared to increase.
Trump may hold a strong lead over the GOP candidates, but President Joe Biden maintains a lead over Trump, said Morning Consult.
“A jury’s finding that Trump sexually abused writer E. Jean Carroll and Trump’s contentious appearance at a CNN town hall-style event appear to have had a negligible impact on his standing against President Joe Biden in a hypothetical general election matchup,” it said. “The latest surveys show Biden with a three-percentage-point lead over Trump, similar to last week.”