Polling shows Gov. Ron DeSantis running close to Donald Trump, but a look at who is supporting each candidate and which voters turn out in GOP primaries signals trouble ahead for the Florida governor in 2024.
The latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll provides an inkling of who is supporting each top GOP presidential primary candidate:
– A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (54%) continue to say they would have a better chance in 2024 with someone other than Trump.
– Trump’s favorable rating among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents is just 68%/25%, far lower than Biden is with Democrats and Trump’s lowest score in seven years with the group.
– DeSantis comes in at 66%/11%, far less disliked, but with almost a quarter (23%) not sure yet.
– What’s notable is that Trump and DeSantis are like mirror images of each other when it comes to who likes them the most among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
– Trump does best with white evangelical Christians, whites without degrees, those who live in small towns or rural areas, and lower-income voters.
– DeSantis, on the other hand, is best liked by college grads, those who make more than $50,000 a year, people who live in big cities or the suburbs, and Republican-leaning independents.
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The reason why DeSantis went to New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago suburbs on his book tour is that that is where his voters are in the primary. DeSantis will have to rely on wealthy, college-educated, urban and suburban Republicans if he has any chance to beat Trump.
The problem is that even in the high turnout primary year of 2016, only 14.8% of Republicans voted in primaries. Those voters tend to be white evangelical, rural, non-college-educated, older Republicans. In other words, more of Trump’s voters are likely to vote in a primary. While 54% of the Republican Party think they would e better off with someone who isn’t Trump, that number isn’t high enough to compensate for the intensity of Trump’s support.
Ron DeSantis is going to have to out-debate Trump and win in the early 2024 GOP primary states. If he gets off to a bad start in the debates, or Trump rolls through the early contests, DeSantis could be too far behind to catch up.
DeSantis is in the position of being the anti-Trump option for Republican primary voters in the polls, but he is also not a candidate yet. The Florida governor should have resources to run a long campaign against Trump, but unless he can change who votes in Republican primaries, he may get trounced by Trump.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association