Despite the fact that former President Donald Trump continues to lead national polls for the 2024 GOP primaries, his path to the GOP nomination isn’t necessarily going to be smooth sailing.
In fact, based on state polling, Ron DeSantis, who has yet to formally enter the race, leads Trump in several key states in the 2024 primaries, which could be problematic for Trump.
DeSantis leads Trump in five of the states with the most current primary polls: Alabama, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and he leads Trump in head-to-head match-ups in Kansas, Maryland, and Missouri; however, though Trump does take the lead when other candidates are included. Trump leads DeSantis in Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia.
“In New Hampshire, February polling indicates DeSantis leading, and then flipping to Trump the next week,” explains the Daily Caller. “Polling from Jan. 19 – 23 suggests that DeSantis would win in a primary field 12 percentage points ahead of the former president, but a few days later, Trump took over by 11 percentage points.”
DeSantis’s strength in early states could make a huge difference in the trajectory of a primary. Joe Biden’s candidacy was on life support after his failure to win Iowa, New Hampshire, or Nevada. Had it not been for House Democrat Jim Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) endorsement before the South Carolina primary, it’s very likely that Biden’s candidacy would have ended there. This is why winning state polls is far more important than winning national polls.
“In Alabama, DeSantis is ahead by nearly 20 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup with Trump. In California, the governor leads the former president 37% to 29% in a field of 11 potential GOP candidates,” explains the Daily Caller. “DeSantis beats Trump in a head-to-head matchup in Michigan, 47% to 42%. In Pennsylvania, DeSantis leads Trump 37% to 32% in a field of contenders. In North Carolina, the governor wins against Trump, with a 12.7 percentage point lead.”
Flashback: I’m Still Torn About Trump and DeSantis in 2024
Of course, DeSantis’s lead in various primary states is still academic at this point. His performance in the polls could change upon entering the race. But DeSantis’s strength is clearly a concern for Trump, who has been not-so-subtlety trying to dissuade DeSantis from running, even accusing him of being disloyal for considering it.
While campaigning in Pennsylvania before the midterm elections, Trump referred to DeSantis as “Ron DeSanctimonious.” On the eve of the 2022 election, Trump warned DeSantis not to run for president in 2024, calling it a bad idea.
“I don’t know if he is running. I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I really believe he could hurt himself badly,” Trump said. “I think he would be making a mistake, I think the base would not like it — I don’t think it would be good for the party.”
“Any of that stuff is not good — you have other people that possibly will run, I guess,” Trump added. “I don’t know if he runs. If he runs, he runs.”
He’s been attacking DeSantis ever since — probably because while he touts national polls, he’s also very much aware of state polling.