From the Right



Sure, Ron DeSantis Could Beat Donald Trump in 2024

Michael Barone on

How inevitable is a third consecutive nomination of Donald Trump? Partisan commentators, when it suits their purposes, tend to assume it is so.

Republicans who remain supporters of the 45th president point to data showing he remains popular among his party's voters. They also recall how loudly heralded attempts to deprive him of his first nomination, in 2016, foundered.

Democrats who regard Trump's election as an inexplicable black swan event, or even a putsch, have an obvious interest in elevating his chances. So do the cable news channels, which, hungry for ratings, gave him the equivalent of billions of dollars' worth of free advertising in the spring of 2016.

That interest is illustrated in the poll numbers. For Trump remains unpopular with, if not anathema to, a majority of voters, including many who otherwise regularly vote Republican. That unpopularity is a sledgehammer they can use to attack all Republicans.

Democrats certainly don't want to depend on the popularity of Joe Biden or his policies. And who else do they have to run?

But is Trump's lock on a third presidential nomination all that secure? Recent polling suggests the answer is no.


Most noteworthy has been the New York Times-Siena College poll conducted July 5-7. Of its sample of Republican voters, 49% favored Trump and 25% favored Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 nomination. That sounds like a big Trump edge, but, as reporter Michael Bender pointed out, his margin there is smaller than Hillary Clinton's was over Bernie Sanders in early 2016.

To which two things must be added. The first is that this is based on the responses of a minority of the 849 registered voters whom NYT-Siena interviewed. Margins of error in samples this small are pretty large.

What this poll really tells us is that about half of Republicans still support Trump -- fewer probably than in all 2021-22 polling -- and a substantial minority pick out the governor of one state, albeit a large one, as an alternative.

That is underlined by the much less noticed results of another poll, sponsored by Yahoo News/YouGov, conducted June 24-27. That survey showed Trump leading with 45%, with DeSantis not so far back at 36%. The total sample size here was much larger, 1,630 adults. The 400-respondent subsample of Republicans would likely have a smaller margin of error, but it could also be a possibly less representative group of respondents.


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