Trump maintains front-runner status over Ron DeSantis in new poll of GOP primary voters

Former President Donald Trump remains the frontrunner in the burgeoning GOP presidential primary field, maintaining a double-digit lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not started a 2024 campaign but is considered the ex-president’s main rival, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll found that 46% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters favor Mr. Trump, compared to 32% for Mr. DeSantis and 5% for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who announced her offer in mid-February . Other potential candidates were listed but did not receive much support, with Vice President Mike Pence topping the list with 3%.

Pollsters said Mr Trump was widening his gap over Mr DeSantis compared to a February poll that gave Mr Trump 42% and Mr DeSantis 36%, although the field is still taking shape.

The new poll found Mr. Trump ahead of Mr. DeSantis by 51%-40% in a hypothetical head-to-head match.

“DeSantis may be the talk of the GOP, but right now Trump is not seeing erosion and is actually enjoying an increase in his lead in the Republican primary,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.

Mr. Trump begins exonerating Florida’s governor, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and characterizing him as a threat to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security and state ethanol support for Iowa farmers.

Mr. DeSantis has avoided a direct confrontation with Mr. Trump as he considers his next steps, though he has alluded to contrasts.

The governor said his administration manages to avoid leaks and other palace intrigues, noting his easy re-election in November. Many of Mr Trump’s handpicked candidates fell short in the midterm election cycle.

The Quinnipiac poll says Mr. DeSantis is doing better in a matchup with President Biden.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump, 49%-45%, among all registered voters in a hypothetical matchup. According to Quinnipiac, the president is effectively in a dead heat with Mr. DeSantis leading the governor by 47 to 46 percent.

The survey was conducted March 9-13 among 1,795 US adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

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