Tracking the 2024 Republican Primary: Trump Leads Potential Rivals
Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 | By Eli Yokley

Responses shown among potential GOP primary voters, who were asked whom they would vote for if the 2024 Republican primary or caucus were held in their state today.
Survey conducted Jan. 27-29, 2023, among 3,459 potential Republican primary voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Former President Donald Trump began his presidential campaign with the bulk of the Republican electorate behind him, but with several other potential contenders considering their own push for the nomination, his grip is being put to the test ahead of the 2024 nominating contests. Morning Consult surveys are tracking the Republican primary electorate’s views of Trump and his potential rivals, as well as how he fares with the wider electorate — a key metric for a party looking to turn the tide on recent electoral disappointments.  

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Key Takeaways

Trump Maintains Steady Lead: Just over a year out from the Republican Party’s first presidential nominating contest, Trump remains the front-runner in a hypothetical crowded field, backed by 48% of potential Republican primary voters. That gives him a 17-percentage-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, up from an 11-point record-low advantage measured at the beginning of the month.

Pence Gets Negative Buzz Amid Documents Matter: After the revelation of classified documents being found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home, the kind of information that broke through to the GOP’s voters dramatically worsened. Compared with last week, when GOP voters were 11 points more likely to hear something positive about Pence, the latest surveys found them 9 points more likely to hear something negative, marking a 20-point decline.

Many Potential GOP Primary Voters Don’t Have Views About Haley: With former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley making moves for a potential presidential bid, a big chunk of the party’s prospective electorate (44%) have yet to form views about her. Just 3% of potential GOP primary voters said they would back her for the party’s nomination.

Tracking Republicans’ 2024 Primary Support Over Time

Share of potential GOP primary voters who would support the following if the 2024 Republican primary were held today:

Data points reflect three-day moving averages of representative samples of at least 2,476 potential Republican primary voters, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 to 2 percentage points.
  • Nearly half of potential Republican primary voters (48%) would back Trump in a hypothetical contest, compared with 31% who said they would support DeSantis.
  • Haley, who once served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, has recently suggested she will soon make a decision about whether to enter the contest. Just 3% of the party’s potential electorate is currently in her camp — identical to the share who would back former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a vocal Trump critic.

Second Choices: Where GOP Primary Voters Could Migrate

After voters registered their first choice, they were asked a follow-up about whom they would choose as a second option; the results below show where the supporters for a selection of leading candidates or potential candidates could go next

Survey conducted Jan. 27-29, 2023, among 3,459 potential Republican primary voters, with unweighted margins of error of +/-3 to 7 percentage points.
  • DeSantis is the second choice of 42% of potential GOP primary voters who are backing Trump, compared with 34% of the Florida governor’s supporters who view Trump as their top backup option.
  • Pence is the second choice of 14% of DeSantis supporters and 18% of Trump backers in a Republican primary. Those who would vote for Pence if the primary were today are roughly splitting their backup plans, largely between Trump and DeSantis.

How Trump and DeSantis Perform Against Biden in Hypothetical Matchup
Latest survey conducted Jan. 27-29, 2023, among a representative sample of roughly 6,000 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-1 percentage points.
  • A hypothetical head-to-head matchup shows Biden with a 1-point lead over DeSantis, compared with a 3-point lead over Trump. The share of voters who said they’d support Biden in both matchups is largely unchanged as he has navigated his classified documents controversy.
  • These numbers may be best considered as a test of electability — a key issue in party primaries that carries all the more significance this time around given concerns about Trump’s baggage.

Tracking the Popularity of Potential 2024 Primary Candidates
Latest survey conducted Jan. 28-29, 2023, among 808 potential Republican primary voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-4%. Net favorability is the share of potential Republican primary voters with favorable views of a candidate or potential candidate minus the share with unfavorable views.
  • More than 3 in 4 potential Republican primary voters (76%) hold favorable views of Trump, while 23% view him negatively. By net favorability, which takes into account voters’ negative opinions, DeSantis is more popular than Trump.
  • Much of the GOP’s potential electorate (44%) has yet to form opinions about Haley, compared with 44% who hold favorable views and 12% who view her unfavorably.

The Buzz About the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary
Latest survey conducted Jan. 28-29, 2023, among 808 potential Republican primary voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-4%. Net buzz is the share of potential Republican primary voters who heard something positive over the previous week about each candidate or potential candidate minus the share who heard something negative.
  • The share of potential 2024 primary voters who have recently heard something positive about Trump has improved to 35% in recent weeks. In addition, more of these voters reported hearing something positive than negative about the former president for the third week in a row.
  • While buzz about Pence worsened, little information appears to be penetrating Republican minds about many potential primary candidates. For example, 41% said they’d heard nothing about DeSantis, 45% heard nothing about Pence and 74% heard nothing about Haley.

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Methodology

The latest national results on questions pertaining to 2024 Republican presidential primary first choice, second choice and hypothetical general-election matchups reflect surveys conducted Jan. 27-29, 2023. The first- and second-choice results reflect responses among 3,592 potential Republican primary voters. Our sample of potential Republican primary voters includes any registered voter who said they plan to vote in the Republican presidential primary or caucus in their state in 2024.

Potential GOP primary voters who initially said they did not know or had no opinion about which candidate they plan to vote for were asked to pick a candidate they are leaning toward. Results are reported among first choice and those who lean toward a candidate.

The hypothetical general-election results against President Joe Biden reflect responses among a nationally representative sample of roughly 6,000 registered voters. 

Morning Consult’s reported results among both sets of voters for the aforementioned questions reflect data based on a three-day trailing average. Across all times series, results among potential Republican primary voters have an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 1 to 2 percentage points, while results among all voters have an unweighted margin of error of 1 percentage point. 

Morning Consult conducts daily interviews with a representative sample of roughly 4,000 registered voters in the United States via stratified sampling based on age, gender, and language (English/Spanish). This daily sample is weighted based on age, education, ethnicity, gender, geographic region, home ownership, marital status and 2020 presidential vote history.

Morning Consult’s reported results on questions pertaining to candidate favorability and buzz reflect data gathered on a weekly or biweekly basis among roughly 800 potential Republican primary voters, with an unweighted margin of error of 4 percentage points.

About Morning Consult

Morning Consult is a global decision intelligence company changing how modern leaders make smarter, faster, better decisions. The company pairs its proprietary high-frequency data with applied artificial intelligence to better inform decisions on what people think and how they will act. Learn more at morningconsult.com.

Email press@morningconsult.com to speak with a member of the Morning Consult team.