Trump firmly behind DeSantis in 2024 Republican primary, new poll finds

DeSantis, who was re-elected as Florida governor on November 8th, has been floated as a potential Republican challenger to Trump.

 Former US President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak at midterm election rallies, in Dayton, Ohio, US November 7, 2022 and Tampa, Florida, US, November 8, 2022  (photo credit: REUTERS/Gaelen Morse, REUTERS/MARCO BELLO)
Former US President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak at midterm election rallies, in Dayton, Ohio, US November 7, 2022 and Tampa, Florida, US, November 8, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/Gaelen Morse, REUTERS/MARCO BELLO)

Former US President Donald Trump is 5 percentage points behind upstart Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Thursday.

DeSantis, who was re-elected as Florida governor on November 8th by the largest margin of victory since 1982, has been floated as a potential challenger to the controversial Trump as a string of indictments and investigations shrouds his post-Presidential career.

A similar poll of Iowa Republicans released in late November also showed that Republican voters preferred DeSantis over Trump as their first-choice candidate by a margin of 32% to 30%, respectively.

DeSantis also seems to have more support than Trump in a potential general election against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden – registered voters across the political spectrum who participated in the poll were split between the Florida governor and Biden at a figure of 44% each, whereas 45% of voters polled preferred Biden over Trump, who garnered 42%.

No other Republican candidate reached more than 5% support for the candidacy, indicating the Republican primary will very much be a two-man race.

 Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks with his wife Casey DeSantis at his side during his 2022 US midterm elections night party in Tampa, Florida, US, November 8, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/MARCO BELLO) Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks with his wife Casey DeSantis at his side during his 2022 US midterm elections night party in Tampa, Florida, US, November 8, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/MARCO BELLO)

DeSantis’ ascent

The 44-year-old Florida native has become a formidable figure in American politics since his narrow 30,000-vote victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum in 2018. DeSantis has largely staked his reputation on Florida’s pandemic response policies, which did not force businesses to close or enforce pandemic-related restrictions that became commonplace around the world, such as lockdowns and mask mandates.

“We chose facts over fear. We chose education over indoctrination. We chose law and order over rioting and disorder. Florida was a refuge of sanity when the world went mad. We stood as a citadel of freedom for people across this country and indeed across the world,” DeSantis declared in his re-election speech this November. 

DeSantis was even listed as a finalist for TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year award, as he was named alongside Xi Jinping and Volodymyr Zelensky – who was ultimately awarded with the honor – and other prominent names from around the globe.

Trump’s descent

Donald Trump has faced a litany of charges since his departure from the Oval Office – many related to his infamous incitement of a coup on January 6th. The January 6th committee has investigated Trump since mid-2021 for his involvement in the incident and has threatened to press charges.

Meanwhile, the former president’s Trump Organization was found guilty on Tuesday of criminal tax fraud, leading to conviction on all 17 counts it faced. The counts include tax fraud, falsifying business records, conspiracy and related crimes.

The former president became further embroiled in controversy after hosting white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes alongside rapper Kanye West at his Mar-A-Lago resort in late November. The former president maintains that West arrived for a scheduled dinner meeting, and West brought with him another guest who had not been invited. He also claimed that he didn't know who Fuentes was.