Trump expands lead, Ron DeSantis sinks: Donald Trump, according to the latest version of the Morning Consult tracking poll, maintains a commanding lead in the Republican presidential contest, while Ron DeSantis has sunk to his lowest point yet.
Ron DeSantis In Trouble
The latest edition of the Morning Consult tracking poll was released Monday, and Donald Trump remains comfortably in the lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. But the big stories, beyond that, are that Vivek Ramaswamy has overtaken Mike Pence for third place- and Ron DeSantis has sunk to match a new low since the poll was launched in December.
Trump leads the field with 56 percent support, the poll says, and while DeSantis remains in second place, he now has just 17 percent support, which is the lowest the Florida governor has placed since the start of the tracking poll. DeSantis does, however, remain the top second choice for Trump voters, with 39 percent of them naming him that.
Ramaswamy, the businessman who was mostly an unknown in political circles prior to launching a campaign, is now in third place in the overall Republican contest with 8 percent, placing him ahead of the former vice president, at 7 percent; Ramaswamy also leads Pence in the second-choice rankings for Trump voters.
Former Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, and Gov. Chris Christie each have 3 percent overall support, with former Gov. Asa Hutchinson with 1 percent, tied with “someone else.” Three candidates relatively new to the race — Gov. Doug Burgum, Mayor Francis Suarez, and former Rep. Will Hurd — clock in at zero percent.
The poll did, however, find that Christie is “widely disliked” among Republican voters. Nearly half of those asked, 46 percent, “hold unfavorable views” of the former governor of New Jersey, a former Trump ally who has dedicated most of his campaign so far to criticizing the ex-president. Pence’s unfavorability among GOP primary voters — many of them likely unhappy with his decision to not set aside the electoral votes on January 6 — is 34 percent.
Trump’s favorability rating among Republicans questioned is 74 percent, compared to 66 percent for DeSantis, 55 percent for Pence, 49 percent for Ramaswamy, 44 percent for Haley, and 42 percent for Scott.
Trump has led ever since the launch of the tracking poll, but his lead has widened. On January 1, Trump led DeSantis with 46 percent, compared to 33 percent. However, DeSantis appears to have become less popular once he has actually become a candidate and begun appearing on the trail for official events.
The Florida governor also appears to come up short in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup with President Biden. Biden leads DeSantis 43 percent to 38 percent, per Morning Consult, with 11 percent choosing “someone else” and 7 percent stating “don’t know.”
In a Biden-Trump matchup, the president also leads, although it’s closer, with Biden leading Trump 43-42, with 10 percent answering “someone else” and 5 percent saying “don’t know.”
There was even more bad news for DeSantis on Tuesday: A Rolling Stone report that the Murdoch family, which had drifted away from Trump and towards the governor in the race’s early going, are now rethinking that support.
“In recent weeks, the Murdochs have grown increasingly displeased with the DeSantis campaign’s perceived stumbles, lackluster polling, and inability to swiftly dethrone Trump,” Rolling Stone said, citing multiple sources.
“[Rupert’s] understandable worry is that we may end up being stuck with Trump anyway,” one source told Rolling Stone. “And DeSantis is underperforming. Anybody can see that…[and the Murdochs], they’re seeing it, too.”
Rupert Murdoch, per the report, “has privately winced at DeSantis’ nonstop cultural-grievance strategy, arguing that it is being executed sloppily.” In addition, the veteran media baron’s worries have “centered on how he feels DeSantis often seems too awkward in his public presentation and in his attempts to connect with the American voter.”
In addition to the family’s opinions, there have also been hints at anti-DeSantis sentiment in the company’s newspapers and TV properties.
On that, ironically, the Murdochs are in agreement with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who also laid out this week why she thinks DeSantis is losing.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.