Former President Trump is the clear favorite to win the 2024 Republican presidential nod, despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) swelling national profile, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill.
In a hypothetical eight-way primary, 48 percent of Republican voters said they would back Trump for the nod, while 28 percent would support DeSantis. While that’s good news for Trump, DeSantis saw a 3-point bump in support since last month.
No other prospective candidate managed to win double-digit support in the poll. Former Vice President Mike Pence came in third place at 7 percent, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tied for fourth place at just 3 percent support.
The poll is the latest sign that Trump has managed to hang on to a loyal plurality of GOP voters, even amid questions about his continued influence in the party and whether it’s time for Republicans to move on to a new generation of leaders.
But DeSantis remains a force to be reckoned with. In a hypothetical Republican field that does not include Trump, DeSantis is the clear front-runner, notching the backing of 49 percent of GOP voters. In that scenario, Pence comes in a distant second, with just 14 percent support.
Even in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up between Trump and DeSantis, the former president still holds the lead. Fifty-five percent of Republican voters said they would back Trump compared to 45 percent who said they would support DeSantis, according to the poll.
To be sure, DeSantis was just sworn in for his second term as Florida governor earlier this month and hasn’t made a final decision on a 2024 presidential bid. Trump remains the only candidate in the race as of now.
Trump also has the advantage of having served four years in the White House, in addition to his longtime celebrity status. He has almost universal name recognition, while DeSantis has only emerged on the national stage over the past few years.
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, said that while Trump may have the edge right now, he’s largely maxed out his potential for growth. DeSantis, meanwhile, has shown that he has the potential to widen his base of support.
“Trump has strengthened somewhat but Ron DeSantis continues to strengthen as well,” Penn said. “Trump is ahead but already has every vote he can get — DeSantis is the candidate of potential.”
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey was conducted Jan. 18-19 and surveyed 2,050 registered voters. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll.
The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.