DeSantis has tumbled from being 11 points behind former President Donald Trump to facing a whopping 40-point deficit.
There was a time back in January when polls showed a breathless, nose-to-nose race between Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But that time is no more, according to a new Morning Consult poll.
How bad is it for DeSantis? Fifty-nine percent of potential Republican primary voters surveyed said they would support Trump (up from 55% last week), while only 19% backed DeSantis, leaving him significantly closer to the ninth place candidate in the poll, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum—who is at 0%—than to Trump.
Trump’s growing strength comes even as he was indicted last week over the retention of classified military and nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago and at a time when potential Republican primary voters were far more likely to have recently heard something negative (46%) rather than positive (33%) about Trump.
DeSantis, meanwhile, has trended steadily downwards in recent months. In early January, he trailed Trump by just 11 percentage points, 45-34, in Morning Consult’s tracker. DeSantis has hemorrhaged supporting since then and even trailed Trump by 44 points in mid-May.
Other key takeaways from the survey include:
- 43% of Trump voters say DeSantis is their top second choice if Trump exited the 2024 race.
- However, more of Trump’s supporters (15%) than DeSantis’ (4%) are uncertain about where their loyalties would fall if their first choice weren’t in the race.
- Vice President Mike Pence placed third in the poll, with support from 8% of those surveyed.
- South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott clocked in at 4% support, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have 3%, Christie has 2%, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has 1% and Burgum has 0%.
The survey was taken among 3,419 potential Republican primary voters polled between June 9 and June 11, and has a +/- 2-percentage-point margin of error.
Strongly Opposed by Floridians
Could DeSantis’ fall from grace be the result of misplaced priorities during this year’s legislative session, including what some critics have called his war on “woke” and his “mean-spirited fascism”? Results of a recent survey by The Hub from April 26-May 3, 2023, showed that several key bills passed by Republicans in the legislative session, and signed into law by DeSantis, are strongly opposed by a majority of people across the state:
- 78% of Floridians oppose permitless carry of concealed weapons (20% support).
- 56% don’t support the state’s near-total abortion ban (41% support).
- 86% oppose new legislation allowing the governor and legislative leaders to conceal their travel records from the public.
- 60% oppose changing the state’s “resign-to-run” law as DeSantis prepares to launch a campaign for president (31% support).
Attempts to Humanize
Another possible reason for DeSantis’ dramatic downfall in the polls is his tone-deaf and bumbling approach to connecting with potential voters. In an attempt to turn things around, his team is reportedly putting together a plan to soften his gruff image, even going as far as giving him lessons on “when to smile” during his interactions with people.
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