Less than year before first primaries, Trump dominates GOP 2024 field

PROMO People - Donald Trump United States Flag - Voice of America - public domain
Published Wednesday, May 17, 2023
by Casey Harper

(The Center Square) - The latest political polling shows that former President Donald Trump holds a significant lead in the Republican presidential primary as the party's primary draws nearer.

Trump leads his challengers by a wide margin in polling released Tuesday by Morning Consult, which compares Republican candidates' support from GOP primary voters.

The poll put Trump at 61 percent among Republican voters, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not yet announced his candidacy, in second place at 18 percent. 

The poll showed DeSantis' support declined while Trump's popularity hit a new high for this cycle.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has also not announced, is in third place with six percent of those voters' support.

"Anyone who claims the former president is not the frontrunner is denying reality," Colin Reed, Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. "The real question is whether the status quo can sustain itself throughout the nominating process, or whether a candidate can consolidate a plurality of support that rivals the strength of the 'always Trump' wing of the party."

Trump's chances were likely propelled by a recent CNN Town Hall that was widely seen as a win for Trump and a loss for the network. Trump was accused of lying and fact-checked in real time but drew cheers from the crowd when he pushed back and attacked the moderator. 


PROMO 64J1 Politician - Donald Trump - FlickrCC - Gage Skidmore
U.S. President Donald Trump. FlickrCC - Gage Skidmore

"Call this town hall what it is: a CNN sponsored Trump 2024 fundraiser," the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political group, wrote on Twitter. "Disgraceful."

The day after the town hall, CNN's Anderson Cooper made a point of noting Trump's prominence.

"That man is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president, and according to polling, no other Republican is even close," Cooper said, adding that "he may be president in less than two years, and that audience that upset you, that's a sampling of about half the country. They are your family members, your neighbors, and they are voting, and many said they are voting for him."

Trump will have to hold his lead against an array of qualified candidates. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, is expected to formally announce his candidacy later this month.

Radio host and commentator Larry Elder, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy have already announced their candidacy. The Morning Consult poll put Haley and Ramaswamy tied at 4 percent support. Scott came in with 1 percent support.

There is still time for potential challengers to gain ground on the former president. The first GOP caucus is in Iowa January 22, 2024. The first GOP primary is January 30, 2024, in New Hampshire. But the first tranche of states holding their presidential primary votes is in March of next year.

For now, though, Trump holds a sizeable lead.

"History shows us that Trump is not going to implode or fade away on his own, and he has a low ceiling and a high floor - a floor that gets even higher when the rest of the pie is split up amongst a slew of other names," Reed said.

President Joe Biden announced he is running for reelection in April. Author Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kenney Jr., an environmental lawyer who became famous for attacking the COVID-19 vaccine, are running against Biden.

They have gained little traction, though, and blame the Democratic National Convention, pointing out the DNC plans to host no debates before the primary votes.

In typical Trump fashion, the former president hit Biden immediately upon his announcement.

"You could take the five worst presidents in American history, and put them together, and they would not have done the damage Joe Biden has done to our nation in just a few short years," Trump said in his video response on TruthSocial to Biden's announcement. "Not even close."

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