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Voters Want A Trump-DeSantis Primary Battle In 2024: I&I/TIPP

Trump leads DeSantis 50%-27% in the GOP primary.

President Donald Trump introduced Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

If you’re wondering who Republican voters want to see square off in next year’s presidential primaries, it’s probably no big secret. As the latest polling data from I&I/TIPP show, a solid majority of registered GOP voters and independents who lean Republican, or Republican primary voters, say they want to see former President Donald Trump and current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis duke it out on the primary trail.

In the latest poll, taken of 1,155 registered voters from Feb. 1-3, 397 were identified as GOP primary voters. They were asked to respond to the following statement: “I would like to see a primary contest between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.” They were given a choice to “agree strongly,” “agree somewhat,” “disagree somewhat,” “disagree strongly,” and “not sure.”

The margin of error for the sub-sample is +/-5 percentage points.

The answer that came back: an emphatic “yes.” By 61% to 23%, voters said they’d like to see DeSantis and Trump joust in the campaign, with 26% saying they agree “strongly” while 35% saying they agree “somewhat” strongly.

Republicans were slightly more keen than independents (56%) to see the two heavyweights face off, which perhaps is not so surprising. Both have made big headlines in recent months that have fired up their followers.

Some intriguing differences emerged among a few demographic groups.

For instance, men overwhelmingly (70%) wanted to see a Trump-DeSantis battle, as compared to just 55% of women.

Meanwhile, minority voters and white voters showed a big gap: Just 59% of white voters want to see the Trump-DeSantis battle, versus an overwhelming 94% of black voters and 72% of Hispanic voters.

Equally interesting, among those who self-describe as “conservative,” only 60% said they wanted to see that battle of the GOP titans, compared to 61% of moderates and 77% of liberals.

Why the big differences? Years of polling and unrelentingly negative media coverage show there is not much love for Trump in either the official Democratic Party, the “Never-Trump” circles of the Republican Party or the media.

Even so, his support has been strong at the grassroots level, and his hands-on, Everyman approach to campaigning has clearly struck a chord with minority voters, including some Democrats.

TIPP’s own polling on how the 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls are doing shows how the race currently stacks up.

We asked GOP primary voters, “If the Republican presidential primary were held today, whom would you support for the nomination?”

At this very early stage in the game, one candidate has established a clear lead: Trump.

Half of respondents said they would support Trump, compared to 27% who would support DeSantis.

No other major candidate — not Nikki Haley (1%), not former Vice President Mike Pence (7%), not former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (2%), not former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (0%) — even broke into double digits. Just 2% answered “someone else,” while 9% said “not sure.”

It’s important to note that Haley announced her candidacy in February shortly after our poll was taken.

“It’s time for a new generation of leadership — to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border, and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose.” Haley said in a video announcement of her candidacy.

“China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked around,” Haley said. “You should know this about me: I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels. I’m Nikki Haley, and I’m running for president.”

And little-known biotech and health care entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy also declared for the nation’s top office just last week, in an unusual way: An editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Like Trump, Ramaswamy is independently wealthy, worth an estimated $500 million or more, so funding a run won’t be a problem.

“We embrace secular religions like climatism, Covidism and gender ideology to satisfy our need for meaning, yet we can’t answer what it means to be an American,” Ramaswamy wrote in his initial campaign statement. “The Republican Party’s top priority should be to fill this void with an inspiring national identity that dilutes the woke agenda to irrelevance.”

Can either of these two newcomers break out? That remains to be seen. Right now, many (if not a majority) of voters aren’t paying close attention to who is likely to run, and who isn’t. But Trump’s lead is formidable. Other polls basically show the same thing.

As of now, Trump and DeSantis appear to have sucked all of the air out of the (GOP) room.

Their fight has already begun, with sniping in the media by Trump, who has jokingly called the Florida governor “Ron DeSanctimonious,” among other things. DeSantis, for his part, has called Trump a “moron.”

The coming election battle should be interesting.

Whoever emerges from the GOP scrum has a good chance in 2024. In a recent I&I/TIPP Poll, two-thirds of Americans said they were worse off today than two years ago, while three-quarters in the same poll said they were suffering “hardship” from inflation under Biden’s stewardship.

But what about the Democrats? In February’s poll, we also asked who they would support in the primaries leading up to 2024’s election.

President Joe Biden has a small plurality over the rest of the potential Democratic field, but not much else. Just 38% of Democrats say they will support Biden, leaving open the possibility of a breakthrough candidacy of one or more challengers.

All of Biden’s challengers show single-digit voter support. It’s still early, but among those running, Kamala Harris (9%), Michelle Obama (8%), independent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (7%), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (6%), California Gov. Gavin Newsom (4%), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2%) are the only Democrats with more than 1% support.

With no significant challengers on the horizon yet, Biden and the First Lady have strongly suggested Biden plans to run again in 2024, when he will be 82.

“How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?” said Jill Biden while in Nairobi, finishing up a five-day African trip.

Biden’s weak support within his own party could be troubling for his campaign. In the I&I/TIPP Poll, 11% said they were “not sure” whom they would support, while another 2% said “someone else.” So a majority of Democrats want someone other than Biden, while Democratic Party officials are in a panic.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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