Former President Donald Trump began his presidential campaign with the bulk of the Republican electorate behind him, but 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 other declared or potential candidates, 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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Trump Continues to Lead DeSantis: As Trump awaits potential indictment on charges related to a 2016 hush money scheme with adult-film star Stormy Daniels, he has posted one of his largest polling leads in the 2024 Republican primary. The latest survey shows 54% of potential primary voters support the former president, compared with 26% who are backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, tying his expected opponent’s lowest level of support since tracking began in December.
GOP Base Divided Over Ukraine Policy: Potential primary voters are slightly more likely than not to say that supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russia is not vital to U.S. interests, aligning with Trump and DeSantis. But it’s clearly a divisive issue, as Matt Kendrick writes here in his latest.
Pence’s Popularity Takes Hit: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s favorability rating among potential primary voters declined from 60% to 55% during a week that featured news coverage of his condemnation of Trump’s behavior surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Over the same time period, the share who said they’d recently heard something negative about Pence, who is polling at 7% in the nominating race, increased from 15% to 24%.
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Share of potential GOP primary voters who would support the following if the 2024 Republican primary were held today:
- Over half of potential Republican primary voters (54%) would back Trump if the primary or caucus were held in their state today, compared with 26% who would support DeSantis.
- Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is backed by 4% of the party’s electorate, while Ramaswamy has 1% support, showing meager backing for Trump’s declared challengers for the GOP’s nomination.
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
- DeSantis is the second choice of 46% of potential GOP primary voters who are backing Trump, while 43% of the Florida governor’s supporters view Trump as their top backup option.
- Haley is the second choice of 6% of Trump supporters and 15% of DeSantis supporters. Pence is the second choice of 17% of Trump supporters and 16% of DeSantis backers.
- Far more of Trump’s backers (17%) than DeSantis’ supporters (5%) are uncertain about where their loyalties would fall if their first choice weren’t in the race.
- A hypothetical head-to-head matchup shows Biden with a 3-percentage-point lead over Trump and a 2-point lead over DeSantis. Since early this month, DeSantis has held no advantage over Biden, a contrast with prior surveys conducted since December that would from time to time give the Floridian a modest lead.
- 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 and whether the GOP should work to maintain Trump’s coalition or to try to expand its base.
- Almost 7 in 10 potential Republican primary voters (67%) hold favorable views of DeSantis, compared with 13% who view him unfavorably. Trump is popular with 77% of the party’s potential electorate, in line with his standing throughout much of 2023.
- Under half of GOP voters (47%) view Haley favorably, while 18% say the same of Ramaswamy.
- Pence’s popularity has dropped from 60% to 55% over the past week, his worst showing since tracking of the potential primary electorate began in November.
- Three in 10 potential primary voters said they’d recently heard something negative about Trump, according to the survey conducted during news coverage of his expected indictment, while 38% said they’d recently heard something positive.
- Roughly a quarter of the GOP electorate (24%) heard something negative recently about Pence, up from 15% in the previous week. Still, over half (55%) heard nothing about him as he and other potential contenders continue to not break through to voters.
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The latest national results on questions pertaining to 2024 Republican presidential primary first choice, second choice and hypothetical general-election matchups reflect surveys conducted March 17-19, 2023. The first- and second-choice results reflect responses among 3,394 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 more than 5,000 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
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