A polling firm with ties to Southwest Florida released its first New Hampshire polling for the GOP presidential primary. It found that if former President Donald Trump does not run, Gov. Ron DeSantis would be a heavy favorite.
Victory Insights polled Granite State Republicans March 5-11 and found Trump dominating the field if he seeks another term. Among likely voters, 62% say they would support the former President. A 4.2% margin of error makes little difference, and simulations predicting the outcome of the race show Trump winning the state without fail.
Pollsters included seven other candidates in its survey and no other candidate broke 10% among likely voters. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney comes closest with about 8% among likely voters, and he does poll around 12% when all Republican voters are included. Former Vice President Mike Pence polls around 6% among likely voters. DeSantis comes in with less than 5%, ahead of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
But the numbers shift dramatically in DeSantis’ favor if Trump is left out of the equation. Presuming the former President forgoes a third run, nearly 30% of Trump voters list DeSantis as a second choice, compared to 24% who move to Pence and 17% who go with Cruz.
In a Trump-less field, DeSantis comes out on top with just under 25% support among likely Republican voters, with Pence at just over 20%. Cruz comes in at around 12% and Romney sits at 11%. Haley takes about 7% of the vote while Pompeo wins 4% and Noem barely registers. Another 11% say they favor someone else and about 8% remain undecided.
Victory Insights simulations of a hypothetical primary with all those candidates, minus Trump, find DeSantis taking the Granite State 94% of the time. Pence comes out on top in 6% of simulations while Cruz and Romney win less than 1% of the time.
The polling outfit also looked at what would happen if only the top four contenders in that no-Trump scenario ran. That shows DeSantis gaining the most in straight polling, rising to nearly 29% support among likely voters with Pence north of 23%, Cruz above 14% and Romney over 12%. Notably, DeSantis in this scenario only wins in simulations of the primary 90% of the time to Pence’s 10% but remains the heavy favorite.
The same polling firm earlier this year ran similar polling and modeling on the Iowa caucuses. There, pollsters also found Trump dominating if he runs, and DeSantis the likely winner if Trump sits out 2024. Due to the more complicated nature of predicting caucuses, models were more fragmented, but in caucuses without Trump as a choice, pollsters found DeSantis with a 57% chance of leading Iowa after first alignment, with Pence having a 36% of doing so.
Of course, these are all hypotheticals on a race three years away. DeSantis has kept the door open to running in 2024 but maintains he’s focused on his reelection campaign for Governor in 2022. Any run for higher office likely depends on him winning a second term in his home swing state.
Pence has started to position himself for a potential run. Other candidates have already made or planned trips to Iowa, including Pompeo, but also candidates not listed in the poll, including Sen. Rick Scott.