DeSantis approval drops in GOP primary: poll

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) remains the most formidable challenger to former President Trump’s hopes of reclaiming the Republican presidential nomination — but his support may be slipping.

A new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll released Friday exclusively to The Hill shows Trump leading DeSantis 46 percent to 23 percent. That marks a 5-point drop in support for DeSantis since last month, when he trailed Trump by 20 percentage points in the same poll. 

Perhaps more alarming for DeSantis, however, is his standing in a hypothetical primary field without Trump. Thirty-nine percent of GOP voters said they would back DeSantis for the Republican nomination if Trump was not in the race, but that’s still 10 points lower than where he stood in January.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, saw a slight uptick in support, rising to 17 percent in the poll, while Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor, grew her support to 10 percent — 5 points higher than where she stood last month.

Haley became the first Republican to formally challenge Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination this week when she announced that she would mount a bid for the White House.

To be sure, DeSantis still remains a force to be reckoned with. Even with Trump in the race, he’s still leading his next closest rival, Pence, by a double-digit margin. What’s more, he has yet to actually announce a presidential bid and isn’t expected to do so for months.

In a hypothetical head-to-head match-up between Trump and DeSantis, the former president also comes out on top, beating the Florida governor 56 percent to 44 percent. That’s a different finding than in many other recent polls, which have shown DeSantis gaining the edge over Trump in a one-on-one race.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey was conducted Feb. 15-16 and surveyed 1,838 registered voters. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll.

The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

Tags 2024 presidential election Donald Trump Mike Pence Nikki Haley Nikki Haley Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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