Former President Donald Trump received a big boost in his potential third bid for the Oval Office: A new poll shows him well ahead of the man who could potentially pose the biggest threat to his candidacy.
The conservative Club for Growth told The New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman that it has regularly been testing Trump against DeSantis in possible primary matchups across the nation.
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“Through a spokesman, a Club official says Trump wins ‘handily’ in every state but Georgia,” Haberman wrote on Twitter.
DeSantis for his part has been nonplussed about the various straw polls emerging more than two years before the next presidential election.
“I don’t do straw polls. They just put my name into these things, you know? It’s just, like, so what am I supposed to do? Like they sell merchandise and everything,” he said at an event in Fort Meyers, according to the Florida Politics website. “I kind of would like to get royalties on that.”
There’s just one state where Trump struggles against DeSantis, according to the Club for Growth, and it’s not where you might expect.
It’s not Florida, where DeSantis serves as governor and is expected to cruise to reelection later this year.
It’s just a little further to the north: Georgia.
The Peach State rejected Trump’s picks for Republican nominee for governor and secretary of state earlier this year, and the Club told Haberman that DeSantis is also ahead there in its head-to-head matchups.
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While the new poll is a boost for Trump, other surveys show DeSantis could be within striking distance as conservative voters like his willingness to take on the “woke” movement as well as his COVID-related policies.
This week, DeSantis beat Trump in the Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll, where 71 percent wanted him to run for president in 2024.
Trump was in second place with 67 percent.
No other Republican was close, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in third with 28 percent.
“There is no real party standard-bearer at the moment, and DeSantis in many eyes is starting to define the post-Trump party,” Colorado-based GOP operative Tyler Sandberg told Politico. “He fights more about policy and less on his Twitter account.”
Another longtime Republican insider also said DeSantis is already getting a close look from voters.
“It did not surprise me that DeSantis did well, but, yeah, it kind of surprised me that he did better than President Trump, again,” GOP consultant Dick Wadhams, also based in Colorado, told the website. “I go to a lot of Republican events and have sensed for some time that even with Republicans DeSantis has quite an appeal because of his success as governor of Florida.”
DeSantis also topped a poll of attendees at the Wisconsin Republican Convention, with 38 percent compared to 32 percent for Trump, and he beat Trump in a Jacksonville straw poll, 53 percent to 47 percent, according to Florida Politics.
In another potential warning sign for the former president, an NBC News poll last month found that a growing number of Republicans want someone else as the face of the party heading into 2024.
A third of GOP voters said Trump was a good president, but it’s time for the party to move on from him… while 10 percent said he was a bad president, and also don’t want him running again.
It’s not yet clear if Trump will run again in 2024, although all signs so far point to yes.
And while many prominent Republicans have said they won’t seek the nomination if Trump runs, at least one figure hasn’t made that promise: DeSantis.
That could set up an epic battle at the ballot box between the two Floridians come 2024.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.