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Saturday, April 20, 2024

DeSantis Challenges Trump in GOP Race, but Trump Still Leads

At this early stage of the 2024 Republican presidential nomination contest, former President Trump has consolidated just above half of his party. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is the only challenger at this point, and he has managed to draw support away from Trump by emphasizing his combative attitude and unconventional policymaking, political observers say. DeSantis is also younger than Trump and has a more polished style, while his military service is an important differentiator from the previous administration.

DeSantis has built up momentum since he launched his campaign on Twitter on Wednesday, with many Republicans expressing a preference for him over Trump. However, he still has to work hard to establish his support base. “He’s going to have to do some serious groundwork if he’s going to make up some of this deficit,” said Gregory Koger, a professor at the University of Miami.

While most Republicans and GOP-leaning voters prefer Trump over DeSantis, the latter has made substantial inroads among voters who want to see the same policies but a different standard bearer. About two-thirds of these voters, or 61% of GOP and GOP-leaning voters, say they would be willing to vote for DeSantis if he were the nominee.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Trump is the pick of 43% of Republicans, well above the 19% for DeSantis, a seven-day survey completed on Monday. The figure represents a significant increase over a June Reuters/Ipsos poll, showing Trump with only 28% of the vote.

The rest of the Republican field remains well behind the two front-runners, with former Vice President Mike Pence attracting 9%, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott getting 4%, and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley coming in at 5%.

Despite these signs of trouble for Trump, most voters remain satisfied with the current field of candidates. Almost eight in ten Republicans who name Trump their first choice say they are content with the current state of the Republican race, while about four in ten who name DeSantis say the same. The remainder of the voters in this poll, about six in ten on average, express satisfaction with the field. This suggests that many voters are open to a more diverse field, which could shift the dynamic of the nomination battle in the coming months.

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