Where Trump Stands in Early (Very Early) 2024 Polls

Donald Trump’s support in the Republican Party has not collapsed, and perhaps it never will. But a look at the major polls taken since Election Day suggests that the ice is shifting beneath his feet.

The data also shows Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida gaining ground in hypothetical 2024 matchups, even though he has yet to declare his intentions.

And it underscores the careful line any presidential hopeful must walk with Republican voters; whatever they might think about Trump’s third bid for the White House, there’s little evidence of a clear anti-Trump majority that wants to repudiate him altogether.

One of the sharpest articulations of this point I’ve seen came from Nate Hochman, a conservative writer. “If DeSantis allows himself to be defined as the Never Trump — or even the anti-Trump — candidate, he will be permanently discredited in the eyes of many of the voters he needs to win,” Hochman wrote in an essay for Unherd. “If he can convince those voters that he is the next step in the MAGA movement, he may just have a chance.”

As Hochman noted in an interview, that will be a far harder trick to pull off when DeSantis actually enters the arena against Trump and the attacks start flying. And he won’t be facing the former president alone, or at least not right away.

“In some ways, Trump is in a stronger position now than he was in 2015,” said Terry Sullivan, who managed the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio.

A methodological note: Keep in mind that the margin of error goes up whenever you’re looking at smaller subsamples like this. So don’t take the numbers themselves as definitive; focus on the overall trend lines.

And while those trend lines are not looking great for Trump, they also aren’t quite as catastrophic for him as the commentary among Republican pundits — most blame him for the party’s recent losses, including in Georgia yesterday — would suggest. Nor are they fully consistent. There’s plenty of variety in language and methodology from poll to poll.

Here’s a breakdown of four recent nonpartisan surveys:

Marquette University Law School: In a poll conducted from Nov. 15 to 22, 67 percent of Republicans said they had a favorable impression of Trump, with 32 percent unfavorable. In Marquette’s previous six surveys, Trump’s favorability rating ranged from 70 to 76 percent among the same group.

The percentage of Republicans who said they would like to see Trump run for president in 2024 also declined, to 55 percent in mid-November from a high of 64 percent in July.

At the same time, Republican voters are clearly growing enamored of DeSantis. The Florida governor’s favorability rating climbed to 68 percent in mid-November from 57 percent in January. He’s now roughly on par with Trump in that respect, but DeSantis’s unfavorable number, at 10 percent, is only a third as high as Trump’s.

Charles Franklin, who runs Marquette’s poll, noted that DeSantis came out ahead of Trump, 60 percent to 40 percent, when Republicans were asked whom they would prefer as the party’s nominee for president in 2024. As you might expect, college graduates were much more likely to choose DeSantis.

“His unfavorable ratings have barely changed at all,” Franklin said of DeSantis. “Republicans are getting to know him and they’re liking what they see.”

One other data point leaps out: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s book tour does not seem to be lifting his standing in the party. A year ago, 65 percent of Republicans had a favorable impression of him. Now, that number stands at 51 percent. Pence’s unfavorable rating has nearly doubled — to 40 percent from 21 percent — over the same period.

(Note: I’m including Republican-leaning independents with Republicans in these numbers. Marquette breaks them out multiple ways, unlike the other pollsters listed here.)

In November, 66 percent of Republicans rated DeSantis favorably, but a quarter of them said they had not heard enough to form an opinion. Slightly fewer Republicans — 60 percent — said they thought DeSantis should run for president. In a head-to-head matchup between Trump and DeSantis, Republicans were divided evenly: 44 percent supported each man, while 11 percent declined to say.

Marist: In the latest Marist survey, taken in mid-November, 54 percent of Republicans said that Trump would not be the best candidate to win back the White House in 2024. Only 35 percent said he would be. That’s a big drop from October 2021, when half of the same group said their party would have a better chance of winning in 2024 with Trump as its nominee.

YouGov/Economist: This poll, conducted in late November, looked a little more closely at the potential 2024 Republican field. And the results reinforce a fear voiced by many of Trump’s critics: that a larger pool of rivals appears to help him, just as it did in 2016.

Thirty-six percent of Republicans said they would prefer Trump as their nominee, versus 30 percent for DeSantis. Everyone else — including Donald Trump Jr., because why not ask? — was in single digits. Two weeks earlier, when the same pollster looked at a head-to-head contest, DeSantis led the elder Trump by 36 percent to 29 percent.

Trump’s approval rating fared better, too, in the late November survey; nearly 79 percent of Republicans expressed a favorable opinion of him, as opposed to 71 percent for DeSantis.

Fifty-eight percent of Republicans said they wanted Trump to run again. The former president’s favorability rating was down slightly since the YouGov/Economist survey in January, when 82 percent of Republicans said they viewed him positively.

  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could radically reshape how states conduct elections for president and Congress. Adam Liptak was there.

  • In a toast at the White House’s state dinner with President Emmanuel Macron of France, Jill Biden seemed to indicate that her husband would indeed run for re-election. “The fact that the Bidens were willing to signal to an important foreign ally about the president’s plans hints at how committed they are to a second term,” Katie Rogers and Annie Karni write.

  • Katie Glueck looks at Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is poised to become a more prominent national leader in the Democratic Party after his defeat of Herschel Walker.

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