Former President Donald Trump, already the undisputed frontrunner in the Republican primary race, is continuing to gain ground in the most recent polls. Despite four ongoing felony indictments against him—or perhaps because of them—Trump has nearly doubled his lead over his nearest competition, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis since April.
Since former President Trump’s first indictment in March, his popularity among supporters only seems to have increased. Trump currently faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in New York and 40 counts of mishandling classified documents in Florida, as well as 13 counts stemming from his challenge to the 2020 election results in Georgia and 4 counts from his actions in Washington DC. However, despite the overwhelming number of charges brought against him, the latest presidential polls reveal that voters are entirely disregarding the indictments. In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal survey, half of the base says the prosecution is strengthening their support for the former president.
But at the same time, the polling data also tells the story of the slow decline of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who at one time was poised to be a serious contender for the presidential nomination. After a post-launch ratings bump had DeSantis neck-and-neck with Trump earlier this year, the former president quickly pulled ahead, establishing a commanding 24-point lead by early April.
According to the newest national polls, Trump has now nearly doubled that lead in the intervening time, leaving him with no formidable challenger in the race.
As the Wall Street Journal survey found, support for Trump increased from 48% to 59% between April and August, giving Trump a staggering 46-point lead over his closest competition. In that same time period, DeSantis dropped from 24% to 13% despite a solid performance at the first Republican primary debate.
This dynamic has played out across other polls as well including a CNN poll showing that DeSantis slipped from 26% to 18% between June and September while Trump jumped from 47% to 52%, a 34-point lead. Similarly, a Fox News poll reported Trump increasing from 43% to 53% and DeSantis dropping from 28% to 16% between February and August.
The pattern across all three polls speaks for itself: while DeSantis is still maintaining his position as the leading alternative candidate, his chances of rivaling Trump himself are dwindling by the day. Every point Ron DeSantis loses seems to be one that Donald Trump gains.
Other findings from these surveys highlighted included:
- A slight but measurable rise for former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy;
- Stagnating support for former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott;
- and an overwhelmingly unfavorable outlook on former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
However, with the next primary debate still three weeks away—and the first primary election not taking place until January—the race for the Republican nomination is still far from over.
But the results of polls like these have also been having an effect on the megadonors and Super PACs driving many of the ongoing campaigns. In the latest episode of the PBD Podcast, the Home Team discussed why the search for funding may be a bad sign for the DeSantis campaign.