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Another Day, Another Poll Showing DeSantis Highly Competitive Against Trump

AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

The newest survey along these lines is out of Michigan, and there have been a few others from Florida, home to both the sitting governor and the former president. My overall reaction remains very similar to what I wrote in an analysis of a similar New Hampshire poll last month. In short, the numbers aren't meaningless, and any drumbeat of data showing DeSantis competitive with Trump is intriguing and could shift perceptions ahead of the 2024 race starting in earnest. But. It's insanely early, there are a number of important dynamics that favor Trump, and the likelihood of a one-on-one showdown still looks pretty remote. A lot of people want to run, and the bigger the field, the better it is for the guy with the largest ride-or-die base. The head-to-head numbers may be eyebrow-raising in some respects, but do they reflect any meaningful reality? Beyond an undeniably growing appetite among many Republican voters to move on from Trump? 

I'm not sure, but here you go: 

As I mentioned above, that data comes on the heels of consecutive Florida polls giving DeSantis a hypothetical double-digit lead over Trump. That's good news on its face for DeSantis, but I wasn't familiar with either pollster (so who knows how reliable the numbers are), and Florida – despite being Trump's adoptive state – should be especially hospitable to the governor. For what it's worth: 

Trump maintains double-digit leads over DeSantis nationally in 2024 primary surveys, although his dominant position has weakened. Is there a plausible scenario under which the Florida governor could keep steadily gaining on Trump? Sure. But what if there's a slew of other Trump-alternative candidates flooding into the field, slicing up the pie? As I've been saying that only helps 45. Anecdotally I discussed this recent Trump interview on my national radio show last week: 

“Look,” Trump said, “I feel very confident that, if I decide to run, I’ll win.” I fixated on If I decide. Trump is less a politician than a live-action mythological creature, and so punditry and all of the standard forms of analyses tend to fail. What would factor into such a decision for such an unusual person? “Well, in my own mind, I’ve already made that decision, so nothing factors in anymore. In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision,” he said. He wouldn’t disclose what he’d decided. Not at first. But then he couldn’t help himself. “I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after,” he said. “You understand what that means?” His tone was conspiratorial. Was he referring to the midterm elections? He repeated after me: Midterms.” Suddenly, he relaxed, as though my speaking the word had somehow set it free for discussion. “Do I go before or after? That will be my big decision,” he said. 

He's almost certainly running, unless something persuades him to change his mind and calculus. I asked the audience if they want Trump to run again – and if so, should he announce before or after the midterms. We were flooded with calls. Result: 

A lot of Republicans have expressed a strong preference for Trump to at least stay away until after November, as not to overshadow an election that should be all about Joe Biden and the Democrats. From Newt Gingrich to Trey Gowdy, to countless others, that's been the refrain. Even among some strong Trump supporters, there's an acknowledgment that his dominating presence in the political news cycle wouldn't be helpful to the party over the next few months (but it'd be helpful in 2024?), so we'll see what decision he makes. I'll leave you with this, which is tangentially related: 


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