Tracking the 2024 Republican Primary: Trump Leads Potential Rivals
Updated: Jan. 24, 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. 20-22, 2023, among 3,592 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 49% of potential Republican primary voters. That gives him a 19-percentage-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, up from an 11-point record-low advantage measured at the beginning of the month.  

Trump’s Favorability Rating Is Improving: DeSantis, who is yet to launch a presidential campaign, has largely lost the popularity advantage he held over Trump throughout much of December and early January, with the latest survey showing the two with almost identical net favorability ratings.  

Biden’s Standing Hasn’t Worsened Amid Document Investigation: Neither Trump nor DeSantis have made notable improvements in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against President Joe Biden, whose approval rating has gone mostly unchanged in recent weeks. However, nearly half of all voters (49%) said they had recently heard something negative about Biden, up from 40% in late December and similar to the share who said they’d heard something negative about Trump.

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 (49%) would back Trump in a hypothetical contest, compared with 30% who said they would support DeSantis. 
  • Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki 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 — similar to the 2% 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. 20-22, 2023, among 3,592 potential Republican primary voters, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 to 7 percentage points.
  • DeSantis is the second choice of 42% of potential GOP primary voters who are backing Trump, compared with 38% of the Florida governor’s supporters who view Trump as their top backup option. 
  • Pence is the second choice of 16% of DeSantis supporters and 19% of Trump backers in a Republican primary. Those who would vote for Pence if the primary were today are roughly splitting their backup plans betweenTrump and DeSantis.

How Trump and DeSantis Perform Against Biden in Hypothetical Matchup
Latest survey conducted Jan. 20-22, 2023, among a representative sample of more than 6,000 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-1 percentage points.
  • A hypothetical head-to-head matchup shows DeSantis with a 2-point lead over Biden, compared with a 3-point deficit for 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. 20-22, 2023, among 795 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 (78%) hold favorable views of Trump, while 20% view him negatively. 
  • DeSantis had held a popularity advantage over Trump since early December when it comes to net favorability, which accounts for those unfavorable opinions, but that edge has disappeared. 

The Buzz About the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary
Latest survey conducted Jan. 20-22, 2023, among 795 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 36% in recent weeks. What’s more, for the first time since late November, more of these voters report hearing something positive than negative about the former president.
  • Little information appears to be penetrating Republican minds about other potential primary candidates. For example, 43% said they’d heard nothing about DeSantis following his inauguration, and roughly two-thirds or more of the party’s 2024 electorate has not heard anything recently about the 9 other politicians thought to be in the mix, including 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. 20-22, 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, at least. 

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.