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Poll shows former President Trump a heavy favorite going into 2024

By Sarah May on
 January 21, 2023

As the 2024 electoral stakes continue to heat up, former President Donald Trump has, as The Hill reports, just notched impressive polling results that have come as a surprise to members of the mainstream media, some of whom had begun writing his political obituary and others who relish the idea of him as the nominee.

The most recent good news for Trump came in the form of a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released exclusively to The Hill, which asked respondents about their preferred candidate in an eight-way hypothetical Republican primary.

Trump on top

Though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has garnered a sizable share of headlines as a possible contender in the next presidential cycle, the Harvard CAPS-Harris survey suggested that he still trails Trump among the Republican electorate by a sizable margin.

According to the poll, 48% of respondents indicated their support for Trump to win the GOP nomination, with just 28% naming DeSantis as their candidate.

Though the news in this particular poll was extremely positive for Trump, DeSantis' showing is indicative of a 3-point increase in support from last month's iteration of the same survey.

Another key revelation from the poll was that, at least so far, no other prospective Republican candidate managed to attract double-digit support, with former Vice President Mike Pence coming in at a distant third place, taking just 7% of respondents' support.

Taking just 3% support, respectively, was a trio pair of possible entrants into the race in 2024, namely, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

The outcome of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll tracks closely to the results of another survey released in the past week, with the Morning Consult 2024 GOP Primary Tracker finding that 48% of respondents currently back Trump for the Republican nod, 31% support DeSantis, and a far lower 8% of voters want Pence to receive the nomination.

Maxed out?

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll results will certainly be welcomed by the Trump 2024 campaign, which has continued to build and mobilize since the former president announced his candidacy late last year, but according to co-director of the survey organization, Mark Penn, they may not necessarily be indicative of his future staying power.

Penn suggested that while it is certainly true that Trump's support is currently high, his potential to attract new voters may have already hit its ceiling, whereas DeSantis has significant potential to broaden his reach to a national audience.

“Trump has strengthened somewhat, but Ron DeSantis continues to strengthen as well. Trump is ahead but already has every vote he can get – DeSantis is the candidate of potential,” Penn said.

Who beats Biden?

Though primary season for the 2024 election is still rather far on the horizon, thoughts among GOP insiders are turning to which of the party's likely candidates has the best chance of defeating President Joe Biden, who recently began signaling his intention to seek a second term.

If a recent WPA Intelligence survey is at all accurate, the Republican with the strongest odds of prevailing over the current commander in chief is, in fact, DeSantis, not Trump, as the New York Post reports.

According to the poll, if the country sees a rematch of the 2020 election, Biden would secure four more years in the Oval Office by an 8-point margin.

However, the poll found that if Biden goes up against DeSantis in a head-to-head contest, he loses by three points.

President underwater

While Trump is assuredly basking in what are – at least for now – very encouraging signs for his burgeoning campaign, the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll offered a rather less optimistic outlook for Biden, as The Hill noted separately.

The current president's overall approval rating is currently underwater, with only 42% of survey respondents either “strongly” or “somewhat” approving of his job performance, with just 34% of independent voters falling into that category.

In key election-year issue areas such as inflation, immigration, and the economy, the president's approval rating came in at 36%, 37%, and 38%, respectively, factors that likely further buoy Trump's assessment of his re-election prospects, but whether those numbers remain in the proverbial basement for Biden for very long, or if he manages to initiate a convincing course correction, only time will tell.