Republican voters said former President Donald Trump would be their strongest nominee to take on President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday.
The phone and online poll of 655 registered voters who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party was conducted from May 18-24. It showed 45% said Trump definitely was the strongest and 18% said he probably was the strongest candidate.
In a head-to-head matchup with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the GOP nomination, 56% favored Trump and 35% backed DeSantis. In February, 53% favored DeSantis and 40% favored Trump. In March, Trump had a narrow (47%-46%) lead.
The poll, which had a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points, was conducted before DeSantis made his candidacy for the Republican nomination official on Wednesday.
"If your main argument to Republican voters is that Trump wouldn't be the party's strongest nominee, you've got a heck of a challenge ahead of you," Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said. "There's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem with assessing electability. As we found in our polling during the 2020 Democratic primaries, if voters back a candidate based on issues or character, they also tend to feel that candidate is the most electable.
"However, this still underscores the larger point in this poll. If your message to voters who support Trump is he cannot win, you are going to hit a brick wall. Even if you eat into the group who thinks he is only 'probably' the strongest candidate, you may still not capture enough of the Republican electorate to overcome Trump's hardcore base support."
Trump's favorability rating among those polled jumped to 77%, up 6 percentage points from March and 3 in February. Only 17% had an unfavorable view of him, down from 21% in March.
DeSantis was viewed favorably by 73% polled, but his rating has dipped since it was 80% in February and 76% in March. His unfavorable rating rose to 12% after being 8% in March and 6% in February.
In an open-ended question about who they would like to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, without being given a list of names, 43% said Trump, 19% said DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, who has yet to declare his candidacy, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott each got 3%. In December, DeSantis (39%) was the prohibitive favorite over Trump (26%).
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