Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

- Advertisement -

Analysis | Trump’s problem with polls in the early state


One of Donald Trump’s most time-tested political strategies is to take responsibility and claim that his opponents are weaker on that front — regardless of the actual evidence. And he will keep repeating it, hoping to muddy the waters.

This week, he did it by criticizing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) covid restrictions even though the state has enacted some of the country’s least restrictive pandemic policies, even praising DeSantis at the time for avoiding a real ‘lockdown’. Trump does too with drug overdose deaths under President Bidenwhich are significantly lower than under Trump and have even fallen.

Then we noticed another Trump comment. During an interview with Washington Post columnist Hugh Hewitt on Thursday, Trump continued to try to explain away his DeSantis problem.

“Ron DeSantis is way behind me,” Trump said said. “Occasionally Fox will run a fake poll… but I’m way ahead in New Hampshire. I’m way ahead in South Carolina. I’m way ahead in Iowa.”

Those last claims are far from true. And they highlight an important aspect of the burgeoning GOP campaign of 2024.

In fact, those early state polls do indeed speak to the possibility that Trump’s standing in the 2024 primary could be worse than national polls suggest. That’s because Republicans in the states that matter more also seem more eager to turn the page.

As things stand, Trump generally leads by double digits nationally in a crowded field, while DeSantis is highly competitive and has led in some cases, if you distill the race down to just two of them. (Polls vary in who they include in that crowded field, but generally they include former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, among others.)

The 2024 primary calendar is in flux, but the early states on the GOP side appear stable for now, including Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

We don’t have any high quality impartial polls in Iowa yet. But a few polls there from GOP super PACs showed that Trump and DeSantis were nearly tied in a crowded field, with DeSantis leading Trump by 11 percentage points in a head-to-head contest. Most importantly, the latest poll comes from the Trump-critical Club for Growth. But it showed him going from a 15 percentage point increase in August to a double-digit decline in November.

In New Hampshire, the same two polls showed very similar results. But we also have a more recent study from the University of New Hampshire that found DeSantis ahead by 12 percentage points, even in a crowded field. We’ve seen that in virtually no other poll, national or otherwise.

The findings showed a similar trajectory to the Iowa survey above: Trump went from 25 up at the end of 2021 to a double-digit decline. Even worse for Trump: Less than a majority (46 percent) said he should even run again and had a favorable opinion of him (47 percent). And DeSantis was the first or second choice for far more voters (more than 70 percent) than Trump (less than 45 percent).

Quality polls in South Carolina are sparse and results generally resemble national polls. But surveys have shown that both DeSantis and Haley are running within single digits in hypothetical two-candidate matchups against Trump. And in a poll released last week, DeSantis led Trump by 19 percentage points in a head-to-head game.

There aren’t many polls in Nevada either, but the polls aren’t any better for Trump in other states that could go early in the process or are scheduled for Super Tuesday:

  • In Michigan, where Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) just signed a bill to move the primary to February 2024, a recent poll showed primary voters prefer “someone else” over Trump, 47-35. (Meanwhile, a quarter of state House Republicans delivered a letter to DeSantis urging him to run.)
  • In Alabama, DeSantis led Trump by 19 percentage points head-to-head in a survey by renowned GOP researcher Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of a charter school group.
  • In Tennessee, a Vanderbilt University poll showed DeSantis up 13 points.
  • In Texas, the state’s GOP has released a poll that ranks DeSantis 11, in a crowded field.

This poll is very limited and the race has only just begun. But to Trump, the states that will start the process of choosing the 2024 GOP nominee look like they could be a tougher nut to crack than the rest of the country. It could also be that voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire are a bit more informed about the decision that awaits them, and are a bit ahead of the curve.

Be that as it may, this early data is far from reassuring for Trump. In fact, it’s pretty awkward, which is probably why he’s pretending the opposite is true.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.