Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to shoot down questions about running for the White House in 2024, but he also continues to find fans far away from the Sunshine State.
In New Hampshire, that ever-pivotal first state on the Republican primary calendar, a new survey from the University of New Hampshire says Florida’s Governor currently has higher favorable ratings with potential 2024 GOP primary voters than former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis is at +62 net favorability, the highest in the field of potential candidates tested. Trump came in at +54.
DeSantis and Trump were well ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz, who came in third at +39.
Per the pollsters, DeSantis, Trump and Cruz were the “best-known and best-liked” of all Republican candidates. DeSantis is “slightly lesser known but is more popular” than Trump or Cruz.
DeSantis is underwater overall in the Granite State. He’s at -13 among the entire New Hampshire electorate. That’s bad, but not as bad as other 2024 challengers.
Cruz, for example, is at -25. Trump is slightly better, at -23.
The favorable numbers were not the only highlight of the poll for DeSantis.
He got 38% support as people’s “second choice” if their primary choice didn’t run. That was the best outcome for any polled name.
If DeSantis ran against Trump, however, the former President would vanquish him, according to this survey. Just 18% of polled Republicans picked the Governor, with 43% preferring Trump from a list of names. When the question was asked “open-ended” with no prompts, Trump was up 56% to 13% for DeSantis.
The online poll ran Oct. 14-18, canvassing 1,061 likely 2024 voters, including 441 Republicans and 427 Democrats, with a +/- 3.0% margin of error.
DeSantis traveled this weekend to California to give a speech and fundraise. Sandwiching the travel were two Fox News hits laden with softball questions that cued up increasingly familiar talking points.
The New Hampshire survey largely tracks with national polling, the trend of which shows Trump as a first choice but DeSantis as a consistent second choice in most polls of the 2024 Republican landscape.
Trump has said he isn’t worried about a DeSantis Primary challenge.
“If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump told Yahoo! Finance, noting DeSantis likely would stand down.
DeSantis has been coy when asked about 2024. He has called the chatter about it “nonsense” when addressing the question in state news conferences and national television appearances.
“There’s a lot of huge issues. It’s way down the road. It’s not anything that I’m planning for,” he said during a Fox News Channel appearance weeks back.
Meanwhile, casting a shadow over this 2024 drama is that DeSantis needed Trump in 2018 to get through the Primary, something that has not gone unnoticed by Trump himself, who has told audiences he made DeSantis.
“I don’t want to brag about it, but man do I have a good record of endorsements,” Trump said at a West Virginia rally in 2018. “In Florida, we have a great candidate, his name is Ron DeSantis, and he called me and asked whether or not I could endorse him … He was at three, and I gave him a nice shot and a nice little tweet — bing bing — and he went from three to like 20-something.”
Trump and DeSantis have maintained a united front publicly, but suggestions have mounted that the dynamic could have frayed, especially since Trump lost the presidency.
Among the purported grievances: DeSantis prematurely committed Trump to speak at the Florida GOP Statesman’s Dinner in 2019; he didn’t close beaches in 2020 despite Trump’s wishes; and the Governor skipped a Trump rally while appearing instead with President Joe Biden in Surfside after the Champlain Tower South collapse.
Also worth noting, Trump continues to work with Susie Wiles, the veteran politico who was instrumental to DeSantis’ win in 2018 but was jettisoned unceremoniously by DeSantis soon after.