DeSantis Looks Competitive Against a Trump in 2024 — It’s Just Not the One You’re Thinking Of

14% of GOP voters would support DeSantis against Donald Trump today; 24% would support him against Donald Trump Jr.
January 26, 2022 at 6:00 am UTC

As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has stepped up attacks against Donald Trump in recent weeks, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll shows the Republican nomination appears to be the former president’s to lose if the two end up locking horns in 2024. What’s more, the poll shows the Florida governor would even have a challenge on his hands if he were facing off against the former president’s eldest son, Donald Jr. 

A Tale of Two Trumps: Testing 2024 GOP Primary Scenarios

Republican voters were asked whom they would support in two hypothetical 2024 presidential primary matchups, one featuring former President Donald Trump and another featuring Donald Trump Jr.
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“Someone else” includes Liz Cheney, Chris Christie, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Larry Hogan, Kristi Noem, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Tim Scott or someone who was not included in the poll.
Poll conducted Jan. 22-23, 2022, among 712 Republican registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-5 percentage points for responses shown. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

The primary polling

  • The survey polled half of the Republican respondents about a hypothetical matchup that included Trump but not his eldest son, and the other half on a field that featured Trump Jr. — an influential fixture on the Republican campaign circuit in his own right — instead of his father.
  • In the first test, half of GOP voters said they would vote for Trump in a 2024 primary, compared with 14 percent who said they would support DeSantis and 13 percent who would back former Vice President Mike Pence.
  • With the 45th president out of the picture, Trump Jr. pulled support from 25 percent of Republican voters while DeSantis’ backing increased to 24 percent and Pence’s stayed steady at 12 percent.

The context

Trump has shrugged off any feud with DeSantis as “fake news,” but the two have exchanged subtle shots in recent weeks. Trump said politicians who have refused to disclose their COVID-19 booster vaccination status are “gutless” — a cohort that includes DeSantis — and the first-term governor suggested he went too easy on Trump for locking down the country during the opening month of the pandemic.

It’s done nothing to weaken DeSantis’ popularity with the nationwide Republican base, 51 percent of whom view him favorably — up from 43 percent in mid-May.

Thirty percent of all voters view DeSantis favorably and 32 percent view him unfavorably, leaving the views of 39 percent up for grabs. Trump, on the other hand, is viewed positively by 42 percent of all voters and negatively by 55 percent, roughly matching voter sentiment about President Joe Biden. 

Voters’ views about Biden, in particular, set up high stakes for the eventual Republican nomination contest, where the GOP looks about as well-poised against the incumbent president as Democrats did four years ago.

Biden Leads Potential GOP 2024 Contenders

Voters were asked whom they would support if the 2024 presidential election were held today
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Poll conducted Jan. 22-23, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

How Republicans match up against Biden

  • Biden trails a generic Republican candidate, 37 percent to 46 percent, when voters are asked whom they’d support in 2024. That deficit of 9 percentage points is slightly smaller than an unnamed Democrat’s 13-point lead over Trump in a Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted in July 2018.
  • Among named potential GOP candidates, Trump performs best, trailing Biden by just 1 point, 44 percent to 45 percent. 
  • Against three other names — Pence, DeSantis and Cruz — Biden holds a narrow lead, with the differences explained largely by the size of the prospective Republican contenders' profiles.

The poll was conducted Jan. 22-23, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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