Former President Donald Trump would enter the 2024 Republican presidential primary as the heavy favorite for the party’s nomination, though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is emerging as the clear runner-up should Trump decide against another campaign, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.
The poll, which was shared exclusively with The Hill on Monday, found that in a hypothetical eight-way primary for the GOP’s 2024 nod, Trump is far-and-away the frontrunner, scoring 52 percent support. DeSantis, meanwhile, is the only candidate to win double-digit support at 19 percent. Former Vice President Pence comes in third, with just 7 percent.
But in the event that Trump doesn’t mount another bid for the White House – and he has repeatedly hinted that he will – DeSantis’s support rises to 34 percent, putting him 15 points ahead of Pence. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are tied for third place in that scenario at 7 percent support each.
The survey is only the latest sign that DeSantis, a rising Republican star, could be a competitive force should he launch a campaign for the White House in 2024.
When it comes to overall favorability, DeSantis has Trump beat, though he remains less well-known than the former president. Thirty-six percent of voters say they have a favorable view of the Florida governor compared to 30 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him.
Meanwhile, Trump’s favorability remains underwater at 44 percent to 49 percent.
Only two other Republicans – Pence and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) – included in the survey have favorability ratings above water, according to the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.
“Despite Jan. 6, Trump maintains a strong base in the Republican Party though Ron DeSantis is clearly up and coming,” Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, said. “Trump would beat DeSantis today but most people in the country don’t want Trump to run again so his victory is not assured despite a good starting point.”
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey of 1,885 registered voters was conducted from July 27-28. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll.
The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.