Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes 39% in a poll of the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, while Trump is at 37%. No other potential GOP contender manages double-digit support, with former Vice President Mike Pence in third place at 9%.
That’s a MAJOR change from where the race was last fall. A UNH poll in October 2021 showed Trump with 43% to DeSantis’ 18%.
Another interesting nugget from the poll: Just 6 in 10 self-identified Republicans (62%) want the former President to run again in 2024. Which is, well, sort of low?
Now, this is just one poll in a state expected to be one of the first to vote in the 2024 primary season. If you look at all the polling done in the broader Republican White House race, Trump still leads in the preponderance of it. And he would start a third bid for president as the favorite for the GOP nomination.
(Check out my rankings of the 10 Republicans most likely to win the 2024 nomination.)
But it’s become increasingly clear that the primary race is no longer properly understood as Trump and everyone else, but rather Trump, DeSantis and everyone else.
And DeSantis has been, for a while now, acting less dependent on Trump.
As Politico reported Wednesday: “According to four people connected to the governor and former president, DeSantis has not asked Trump for a formal endorsement and isn’t planning to.”
And DeSantis just got the New Yorker profile treatment. (The headline: “Can Ron DeSantis Displace Donald Trump as the G.O.P.’s Combatant-in-Chief?”) That story includes this telling line: “Articulate and fast on his feet, he has been described as Trump with a brain.”
Trump has been largely dismissive of DeSantis’ prospects. “If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump said last fall. “I think most people would drop out; I think he would drop out.”
But DeSantis’ strong showing in the polls coupled with the $112 million he has sitting in his gubernatorial campaign coffers suggests that circumstances have changed in the 2024 race — and Trump needs to change with it.
The Point: The Republican primary race no longer looks like a runaway for Trump.