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Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field

Former President Trump is the clear favorite to win the GOP's 2024 presidential nomination if he decides to mount another bid for the White House, according to a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.

Nearly 6 in 10 Republican voters surveyed - 58 percent - say they would vote to put the former president back on the ballot in 2024, suggesting the party is ready and willing to give Trump another chance after his 2020 loss to President Biden. 

No other potential 2024 Republican candidate comes close to matching Trump. Former Vice President Mike Pence notches a distant second place with 13 percent support among GOP voters, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising star in the Republican Party, scored only 9 percent support in a primary field that includes Trump.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are tied for fourth place, garnering 3 percent support each.  

"While defeated candidates rarely come back, Trump has a strong lead in the Republican primary especially among the most dedicated Republicans," Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, said. 

Since leaving the White House in January, Trump has both publicly and privately toyed with the notion of mounting a 2024 presidential run. 

But in recent weeks, he has begun to signal that he may be more likely to run again than not. He's ramped up his media appearances and press statements, and he's planning upcoming rallies in Georgia and Iowa, the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state.

Of course, the 2024 Republican presidential primary contest is still years away and it's possible that Trump ultimately decides against a run. 

When he wasn't included in the lineup of potential presidential contenders, Pence took the top spot among Republican voters with 32 percent support in the poll. DeSantis's support rose to 20 percent, putting him in second place, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) bypassed both Haley and Rubio to take third place, with 14 percent support.

Despite his popularity among Republicans, Trump remains a deeply polarizing figure among the broader electorate. While 48 percent of respondents say they have a favorable opinion of the former president, 47 percent have an unfavorable view of him.

What's more, voters are split on whether he was a better president than his successor, Biden. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed say that Trump is the superior commander in chief, while 49 percent choose Biden, according to the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey.

Penn said that the improving views of Trump may be due to the simple fact that he's no longer in the White House and doesn't have the same public platform that he used to, especially given his banishment from social media sites.

"Facebook may have done Trump a favor as since he is out of the daily social media traffic his numbers have risen to an unprecedented 48 percent favorable," Penn said. "But the polarizing opinions on Trump make him today as likely to sink the Republican Party as help its return." 

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey of 1,578 registered voters, including 490 Republicans, was conducted from Sept. 15 to 16. The margin of error for the sample of Republicans is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. Respondents are recruited via voter panel providers on a randomized basis, and their responses are then weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative poll conducted online, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

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