Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is reaching far beyond the boundaries of the Sunshine State to take command of the Republican Party nationally, if he wants it, according to a new Suffolk University/USA TODAY national poll of registered voters.
Nearly two-thirds of Republican voters and independents who identified as either conservative or very conservative (65%) said they want DeSantis to run for president, and 56% of those same voters said they prefer him to former President Donald Trump.
“There’s a new Republican sheriff in town,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “DeSantis outpolls Trump not only among the general electorate, but also among these Republican-leaning voters who have been the former president’s base. Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump.”
In a hypothetical matchup, DeSantis also leads President Joe Biden 47%-43% among all voters, with 7% undecided, 2% indicating they would vote for someone else, 1% saying they wouldn’t vote, and 1% refusing a response. Biden easily defeats Trump 47%-40% among all voters, with 5% indicating someone else, 4% saying they would not vote, 4% undecided, and 1% refusing a response.
Trump’s approval rating now stands at just 30%, compared to 46% for Biden.
Paleologos cautioned that the successful DeSantis equation only works in a one-on-one matchup against Donald Trump. “Add in a number of other Republican presidential candidates who would divide the anti-Trump vote,” he said, “and you have a recipe for a repeat of the 2016 Republican caucuses and primaries, when Trump outlasted the rest of the divided field.”
Overwhelming majorities don’t want Biden or Trump to run in 2024
When all voters were asked if Trump should run in 2024, the answer was a resounding no (69%), while just 25% want him to try again. President Biden fared just as poorly among registered voters.
Over 67% did not want him to seek re-election, compared with just 23% who would like him to run.
GOP candidates fare poorly with independent women
Over the course of the 2022 midterms, Suffolk University polling found that independent women, angered by the overturn of Roe v. Wade, prevented a red wave by breaking with independent men who had overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates. In this poll, Republicans continued to fare poorly with independent women. In a hypothetical 2024 Biden-Trump matchup, independent women preferred Biden to Trump by 51%-28%; they also preferred Biden to DeSantis, 47%-42%.
2022 track record
In the final three weeks prior to the midterm elections, Suffolk University was a perfect seven for seven predicting statewide outcomes and bellwethers for Senate races in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.
The nationwide Suffolk University/USA Today survey was conducted through live interviews of cell phone and landline users. The survey of 1,000 voters was conducted December 7-11. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points. The margin of error of the subset of Republicans and conservative independents (n=374) is +/- 5.1 percentage points. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].