Donald Trump's star is not moving in the right direction... if you're Donald Trump. Two recent polls suggest Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis might be moving into position to challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination.
The first is a national poll conducted June 24-26 by Morning Consult in which Trump still dominates the GOP field with the backing 53% of Republican voters. But support for DeSantis has increased to 22%, up from 16% in early June, which is precisely when the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 began its public hearings.
But the recent Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire spells even bigger trouble for Trump. The outfit has been polling top contenders for the GOP nomination since July 2021, when Trump led DeSantis among likely Republican voters, 47% - 19%. By October 2021, Trump's hold on the GOP base appeared to be softening slightly, but he was still up over DeSantis, 43% - 18%. But Trump's support looks to be collapsing in the most recent survey of likely GOP voters, conducted June 16 - 20, showing DeSantis now leading Trump, 39% - 37%.
Republican focus groups conducted by The Bulwark founder Sarah Longwell after the first several Jan. 6 hearings also suggest that while Trump voters still generally support Trump, they are weary of him making a 2024 presidential bid. As Longwell noted on her podcast The Focus Group, "In both of these focus groups, for the first time ever, I had two focus groups back-to-back where not a single person thought Donald Trump should run again."
Looking at the totality of this new data, it's hard not to conclude that Trump has at least sustained some damage with the GOP base in recent weeks and months. The question is whether he can bounce back from it or the damage is irreparable.
In the meantime, DeSantis is reportedly "sharpening his knives" as he waits for his 2024 opening.
None of this is to say that Trumpism's star is falling; rather GOP voters (and donors too) may be embracing the idea of Trumpism without Trump's baggage, i.e. DeSantis.
In the New Hampshire poll, DeSantis actually ran better against President Joe Biden than Trump in a hypothetical '24 matchup. In fact, DeSanis edged out Biden by a point, 47% - 46%, while Trump lost to Biden by 7 points, 43% - 50%.
If these recent trends hold over the next several months, Democrats stand a good chance of benefitting in November from the internal strife within the GOP. Republicans wanted their voters to be singularly focused on inflation and their disgust with President Biden.
Instead, GOP voters could be in the early stages of a divisive debate over wether the party should stick with Trump or throw him overboard in favor of a younger Republican whose star is on the rise.
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