Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slightly edges out former President Donald Trump as the preferred leader of the GOP, according to Republicans questioned in a new national poll.
An Associated Press/NORC Center poll released on Tuesday indicates that 22% of Republicans said they want DeSantis to be the leader of the party, with 20% saying the same thing of Trump.
But more than a third of those questioned — 34% — said they didn’t know who should lead the GOP or declined to answer.
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No other Republican sampled in the survey topped 1%, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who on Tuesday became the second major Republican following Trump to launch a 2024 GOP presidential campaign.
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Trump remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP, but the first three months of his third White House run have been bumpy for the former president’s campaign.
While the former president was once the overall front-runner in the early 2024 GOP nomination polls, DeSantis has eclipsed him in some surveys over the past few months. Nearly every poll indicates Trump and DeSantis as the favorites, with everyone else in the single digits.
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DeSantis, a former congressman, saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country the past three years, courtesy of his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a conservative culture warrior, going after media and corporations. And the Florida governor’s nearly 20-point re-election victory helped transform the one-time swing-state battleground into a red state.
DeSantis routinely dismisses talk of a 2024 White House run, but he’s dropped plenty of hints of a possible presidential bid since his re-election victory speech in November. Sources in DeSantis’ wider orbit say any presidential campaign launch would come in the late spring or early summer, after the end of Florida’s current legislative session.
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The new poll indicates that 19% of Republicans view Trump as the current leader of the party, with 10% saying it’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 9% naming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The AP-NORC poll was conducted from Jan. 26 to Jan. 30 with 1,068 adults and had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.