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Polls Reveal Trump With Wide Lead Over DeSantis, But There's a Catch

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It pretty much seems to be a given that the 2024 Republican presidential primary will come down to former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). While Trump announced last November, not long after a disappointing election cycle for Republicans, DeSantis has not yet declared, though he is expected to do so. Regardless of DeSantis having not even yet declared, Trump has continuously gone after the man who is almost certainly likely to be his most formidable Republican primary opponent. 

As Fox News highlighted on Monday morning, the former and potentially future president is performing quite well in a series of polls, even holding a double-digit lead over DeSantis in most of them. 

One such poll highlighted included the Reuters/Ipsos poll that was conducted less than two weeks ago. Among Republicans, 44 percent supported Trump while 30 percent supported DeSantis. Eleven percent of respondents said they didn't know. No other candidate received support above double digits. Former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), who declared last month, enjoys 3 percent support, behind former Vice President Mike Pence's 5 percent support, and former Rep. Liz Cheney's (R-WY) 4 percent support. 

Despite Trump having double digit support over DeSantis, he is not the candidate who fares best against President Joe Biden, assuming the president runs for reelection, a move he is expected to announce soon. Trump does appear to be the candidate Biden wants to run against most, though. Gov. DeSantis comes closest to beating Biden in a hypothetical matchup where the president would win with 36 percent to DeSantis' 35 percent. 

Against Trump, Biden's lead increases to 38 percent, while his 2020 opponent has 35 percent support. 

This is consistent with several polls, as RealClearPolitics (RCP) shows Biden with just a 0.3 percent average lead over DeSantis compared to a 1.3 percent average lead over Trump.

The poll also included another kind of interesting hypothetical matchup. In a three-way race with Biden as the Democratic nominee, DeSantis as the Republican nominee, and Trump as an Independent, the president still wins. His win with 36 percent is a double-digit lead against DeSantis' 24 percent, while Trump would come in with 19 percent. 

While DeSantis would win a majority of support from Republicans, he does so just barely, at 51 percent, while 35 percent of Republicans would support Trump. Both DeSantis and Trump have the support of 21 percent of Independents, while 18 percent of such voters would support Biden.

Such a scenario actually took place in 1912, between President William Howard Taft who ran as a Republican incumbent against his predecessor, former President Teddy Roosevelt, who ran under the Bull Moose Party. That they split Republican voters allowed Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson to win that much more handily. 

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted on March 14-20, with 4,410 adults and a credibility interval of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

As highlighted in the Fox News piece, though, this recent poll is not the only one to show Trump in the lead. RCP has compiled several recent polls for the 2024 Republican primary as well. Of the national polls included since March 2, DeSantis is ahead by 2 percent over Trump in a CNN poll, where he enjoys 39 percent support to Trump's 37 percent. Such a lead is within the plus or minus 3.8 percentage point margin of error. 

Trump is ahead by 2 percent in a Susquehanna poll (39-37 percent); by 29 percent in an I&I/TIPP poll (51-22 percent); by 14 percent in a Quinnipiac poll (46-32 percent); by 8 percent in a Monmouth poll (44-36 percent); and by 26 percent in a Harvard-Harris poll (50-24 percent).

A separate article from Fox News also highlighted another catch to Trump's performance in the polls, however. Trump may have a hard time convincing more than his fellow Republicans that he's worth electing. According to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released earlier on Monday, 61 percent of Americans do not want Trump to serve another term. The poll still shows Trump with the support among Republicans, however, as 76 percent of Republicans want to see Trump as president again.

The poll was conducted March 20-23, with 1,327 adults and a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. 

To be fair, polls have also shown Biden to experience issues, even among his own base. A poll released last month from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that just 37 percent of Democrats want Biden to run again. A more recent poll of theirs also spelled trouble for Biden, as he reached an approval rating "near [his] lowest point," at 38 percent. 

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