Trump wins CPAC straw poll as DeSantis’s support grows
Former President Trump emerged as the clear winner in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s (CPAC) highly anticipated presidential straw poll, capturing a solid majority of support in a hypothetical primary match-up and cementing his status as the heavy favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination among the most devoted conservatives.
The straw poll, which received responses from more than 2,500 conference attendees, found that 59 percent back Trump for the 2024 Republican nod, a slight increase over last year’s poll, which showed him with 55 percent support.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) finished in a distant second with 28 percent support, making him the only other prospective candidate to notch double-digit support. In last year’s straw poll, DeSantis notched 21 percent support.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finished in third place, with just 2 percent support.
The straw poll confirmed two trends that were evident throughout the four days of this year’s CPAC in Orlando, Fla.
Nearly 15 months after losing his 2020 reelection bid, Trump remains overwhelmingly popular among the GOP’s conservative base and would likely run away with the 2024 Republican presidential nomination should he mount a comeback bid.
Eighty-five percent of respondents said they would support Trump again in 2024 if he launches another campaign for the White House.
But the straw poll also reaffirmed DeSantis growing star power among conservatives, many of whom are eager for fresh leadership in the coming years.
Asked whom they would support in a hypothetical Republican presidential primary if Trump is not on the ballot, nearly two-thirds of participants — 61 percent — chose DeSantis. Pompeo tied for second place with Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. Both scored 6 percent in the straw poll.
Throughout the four-day conference, attendees repeatedly said that they remain supportive of Trump but expressed a growing interest in DeSantis, who has made a name for himself in recent years for his stiff opposition to COVID-19-related mandates and restrictions and has repeatedly bucked the advice of public health officials.
Still, Trump’s overall approval among CPAC attendees remains overwhelming. Ninety-seven percent of respondents said they approved of his performance during his tenure as president, including 83 percent who strongly approved.
The straw poll also illustrated just how deeply Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread voter fraud has penetrated the GOP’s conservative grassroots. A plurality of straw poll respondents — 49 percent — said that election integrity is the issue most important to them, while 48 percent pointed to immigration.
The straw poll results also reflected the ongoing fixation within the conservative movement on Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of State and the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
Asked who they believe the 2024 Democratic nominee will be, 22 percent of respondents pointed to Clinton, while 17 percent said former first lady Michelle Obama. Only 14 percent believe that President Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee in two years.
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