If Iowa and New Hampshire set the table for the 2024 GOP presidential primary, newly entered Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has a lot of catching up to do.
Former President Donald Trump leads his chief rival by 42 points (62%-20%), with the rest of the field barely making a dent, according to the latest Emerson College poll.
"Trump's lead in the caucus reflects his numbers in Emerson's March New Hampshire primary poll, where he held a 41-point lead over DeSantis," Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball wrote in his poll analysis.
"The former president's base continues to be voters under 35: 75% of whom support Trump, and voters without a college degree: 70% support Trump. DeSantis' support is higher among voters with a postgraduate degree, with 29% support, still trailing Trump’s 37% with this group."
And, while DeSantis campaign endorsers are hailing his general election electability, Trump is outperfoming DeSantis against President Joe Biden, too, in a pair of hypothetical races.
Trump leads Biden by 11 points (49%-38), with 10% vowing to vote for a third-party candidate and just 3% undecided. DeSantis is 4 points weaker (45%) than Trump versus Biden (38%), holding a 7-point edge, with 11% choosing a third-party candidate and 6% undecided.
Iowa is not a favorable state for Biden as just 35% give him a positive approval on his job performance, compared to a majority 54% approval.
With Iowa and New Hampshire long having gone 1-2 in the presidential primary cycle, Biden has sought to move his favored state of South Carolina to first in the nation status. Biden was trailing in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary until scoring a victory in South Carolina and gathering the momentum to slingshot him to the nomination.
A combined 74% say it is either very (40%) or somewhat (34%) important Iowa keep its first in the nation status. Just 27% find it not very important (16%) or not at all important (11%).
"Party registration has an impact on voters' attitudes on whether Iowa should remain first in the nominating process, 62% of registered Democratic voters find it important they remain first in the nation, while 38% find it not very or at all important," according to Kimball.
"This compares to 86% of Republicans who find it important, and 14% who find it not very or at all important."
The full GOP primary poll results:
- Trump 63%
- DeSantis 20%
- Former Vice President Mike Pence 5%
- Former U.N. Amb. Nikki Haley 5%
- Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., 3%
- Vivek Ramaswamy 2%
- Someone Else 2%
- New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu 1%
- Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson 1%
- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum 0.2%
Biden is a runaway in the much smaller Democrat caucus field in Iowa, as 69% back Biden, 11% back Robert Kennedy Jr., 10% back Marianne Williamson, and the remaining 10% say they will back someone else, according to the poll.
"Heading into the 2024 primary season, President Biden is in a comfortable position," Kimball noted, pointing to Biden's poor showing in 2020. "Compared to his performance in the state in 2020 where he received about 16% of the final vote, less than a third of Democratic caucus voters are looking to another candidate in 2024."
On the issues, economy is tops for 31% of voters, followed by education (15%), "threats to democracy" (15%), immigration (10%), abortion access (9%), and healthcare (8%).
Emerson College Polling's survey of 1,064 registered voters was conducted May 19-22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. Among 442 Republican registered voters the margin of error is plus of minus 4.6 percentage points.
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