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Elections in the United States: Donald Trump crushes DeSantis and his rivals from the Republican Party

Former President Donald Trump is dominating his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, leading his closest challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by a crushing 37-point lead nationally among the likely electorate in the Republican primary, according to the first survey from The New York Times/Siena College of the 2024 campaign.

Trump gained decisive advantages in almost all demographic groups and regions and across all party ideologies, according to the poll, as Republican voters shrugged off concerns about his growing legal danger. He leads by wide margins among men and women, voters young and old, moderate and conservative, college and non-college, and in cities, suburbs and rural areas.

The poll shows that some of the central arguments of the DeSantis campaign – that he is more electable than Trump and that he would govern more effectively – have not caught on so far. Even Republicans motivated by the kinds of issues that have fueled DeSantis’ rise, such as the fight against the “woke radical ideology”They opted for Trump.

Overall, Trump led DeSantis 54% to 17%. No other candidate surpassed 3% support in the poll.

Beneath those lopsided figures were other ominous signs for DeSantis. He had his worst results among some of the largest and most influential groups in the Republican Party. He garnered just 9% support among voters age 65 and older and 13% of those without a college degree.

Republicans who describe themselves as “very conservative” they favored Trump by a 50-point margin, 65% to 15%.

no serious applicant

Even so, no other serious Trump contenders have emerged other than DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina each drew 3% support.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy, a businessman, each received support from just 2%.

However, even if all those candidates were to disappear and DeSantis had a hypothetical one-on-one race against Trump, would still lose by a 2-to-1 margin, 62% to 31%, according to the poll. That’s a stark reminder that despite all the fears among anti-Trump forces that the party would split in a repeat of 2016, Trump is on the verge of defeating even a unified opposition.

The survey is published at less than six months from the first primaries of 2024 and before a single debate. In an era of American politics defined by his volatility, Trump’s legal troubles – his trials of him threaten to overlap with the primary season – pose an especially unpredictable wild card.

Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania.  Photo: Joed Viera / AFP

Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania. Photo: Joed Viera / AFP

For now, however, Trump seems to fit just as well with the surly mood of the Republican electorate, 89% of whom believe that the nation is going in the wrong direction, as with the desire of the Republicans to take the fight to the Democrats.

trump is my man

“I might say mean things and make all the men cry, because every man is wearing his wife’s underwear and you can’t be a man anymore,” David Green, 69, a Somersworth store manager, said of Trump. New Hampshire). “You have to be a bit of a sissy and cry about everything. But at the end of the day, you want results. Donald Trump is my man. He has shown it nationally.”

Trump and DeSantis maintain strong overall favorable ratings from Republicans, 76% and 66%.

That DeSantis remains so beloved after a battery of news stories questioning his ability to connect with voters, and more than $20 million in attack ads from a Trump super PAC, shows a certain amount of resilience. His political team argued that the overall positive image of him among Republican Party voters provides a solid foundation on which to build.

But the intensity of the former president’s support is a key differenceas 43% of Republicans hold a “very favorable” opinion of Trump, a cohort he leads by a landslide of 92% to 7% in a one-on-one race with DeSantis.

On the contrary, DeSantis is locked in an effective tie with Trump, topping him out 49% to 48%, among the smaller portion of primary voters (25%) who view the Florida governor very favorably.

In interviews with respondents, a recurring theme emerged: they like DeSantis; they love Trump.

The intensity of the former president's support is a key difference from his rivals.  Photo: Joed Viera / AFP)

The intensity of the former president’s support is a key difference from his rivals. Photo: Joed Viera / AFP)

“DeSantis, I have high hopes. But as long as trump is there trump is the mansaid Daniel Brown, 58, a retired nuclear plant technician from Bumpass, Virginia.

“If he wasn’t running against Trump, DeSantis would be my next choice,” said Stanton Strohmenger, 48, a maintenance technician in Washington Township, Ohio.

Several interviewees drew a distinction between DeSantis’s achievements in the Florida capital, Tallahassee, and Trump’s in the White House.

“Trump demonstrated his influence,” said Mallory Butler, 39, of Polk County, Florida. “And DeSantis did it, but in a much smaller arena.”

The truly anti-Trump faction of the Republican electorate seems to hover around 1 in 4 GOP voters, hardly enough to unseat him.

Overall, Trump led DeSantis 54% to 17%.  No other candidate surpassed 3% support in the poll.  Photo: AP

Overall, Trump led DeSantis 54% to 17%. No other candidate surpassed 3% support in the poll. Photo: AP

only 19% of the electorate affirm that Trump’s behavior after his defeat in 2020 threatens American democracy. AND only 17% believes that the former president committed a serious federal crime, despite his indictment by a federal grand jury on charges of mishandling classified documents and his receipt of a so-called objective letter in the separate election interference case being handled by the office of special counsel Jack Smith.

“I think Donald Trump is going to take a lot of baggage with him to the election,” said Hilda Bulla, 68, of Davidson County, North Carolina, who supports DeSantis.

Yet Trump’s grip on the Republican Party is so strong that the Times/Siena poll found that in a head-to-head with DeSantis, Trump still received 22% among voters who believe he committed serious federal crimes, a proportion greater than the 17% DeSantis got from the entire Republican electorate.

DeSantis made taking on “woke” institutions a centerpiece of his political identity. But when given a choice between a hypothetical candidate who prioritized “defeating radical woke ideology” or one who focused on “law and order on our streets and at the border,” only 24% said they would be more likely. to support the candidate focused on tackling “woke” issues.

Equally troubling for DeSantis is that those “woke”-focused voters still preferred Trump, 61% to 36%.

In interviews with respondents, a recurring theme emerged: they like DeSantis;  they love Trump.  Photo: AP

In interviews with respondents, a recurring theme emerged: they like DeSantis; they love Trump. Photo: AP

The ability to defeat President Joe Biden and enact a conservative agenda is at the core of DeSantis’s appeal to Republicans. He warned that Trump saddled the party with a “culture of losing” in the Trump years and set his sweeping 2022 re-election bid in the once-purple state of Florida as a model for the Republican Party. As governor, he pushed a broad set of conservative priorities that dramatically reoriented the state and promised to bring the same political zeal to the White House.

However, these arguments don’t seem to work. A large majority of the Republicans surveyed, 58%, said it was Trump, not DeSantis, who best described himself by the phrase “capable of beating Joe Biden”. And again, it was Trump, by a wide margin of 67% to 22%, who was seen as the most “get it done.”

trump is more fun

DeSantis narrowly edged out Trump in being seen as “likable” and “moral.” Interestingly, the proportion of Republicans who said they Trump was more “fun” that DeSantis (54% to 16%) almost perfectly mirrored the overall race.

Sandra Reher, 75, a retired teacher from Farmingdale, New Jersey, said of DeSantis: “It doesn’t convey humor”. “He seems like a good Christian, a wonderful family man. But he doesn’t have that fire, if you will, that Trump has.”

Increasingly on the road, DeSantis calls attention to his “blue collar” roots and his decision to serve in the military as reasons why voters should support him in his run against a self-proclaimed billionaire. But the poll showed Trump beating DeSantis among likely Republican primary voters making less than $50,000, 65% to 9%.

As of now, DeSantis’s few demographic havens — places where he is losing by smaller margins — are the most exclusive pockets of the electorate. Between white voters with college degrees, DeSantis leads Trump by 12 points, 37% to 25%. Among those earning more than $100,000, DeSantis trailed by 23 points, half the deficit he faced among the lowest income earners.

He fractured field appears to be preventing DeSantis from cementing support among those voters: In the hypothetical head-to-head race, DeSantis was statistically tied with Trump among college-educated white voters.

On a number of issues, the poll suggests it will be difficult for DeSantis to beat Trump on political grounds alone.

Head-to-head, Trump was far ahead of DeSantis among Republicans who accept transgender people as their identifying gender, and among those who don’t; among those who want to fight corporations that “promote woke left ideology,” and among those who prefer to stay out of what corporations do; between those who want to send more military and economic aid to Ukraine, and those who don’t; among those who want to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are; and among those who want to take steps to reduce the budget deficit.

For respondents, Trump is "more fun".  Photo: Giorgio Viera / AFP

For respondents, Trump is “more fun.” Photo: Giorgio Viera / AFP

Trump leads DeSantis among Republicans who believe abortion should always be legal, and among those who believe it should always be illegal.

DeSantis signed a strict six-week abortion ban that Trump criticized as “too harsh”. However, Trump had the support of 70% of Republicans who said they strongly supported the measure.

Marcel Paba, a 22-year-old in Miami, said he liked what DeSantis had done for his state, but he didn’t think the governor could overcome enthusiasm for Trump.

“Simply there are more diehard fans of Trump than of Ron DeSantis. Even in Florida,” Paba said. “I don’t see people wearing a Ron DeSantis cap anywhere, you know?

– The New York Times/Siena College poll of 932 voters in the likely Republican primary electorate was conducted by phone with live operators July 23-27. The sampling error margin is plus or minus 3.96 percentage points.

c.2023 The New York Times Company


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