(As originally published with video and graphics, Thu, February 24th 2022, 11:59 AM EST)
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPEC) — There could be a new leader of the Republican Party, at least in Florida.
A new poll has Gov. Ron DeSantis beating former president Donald Trump among GOP voters in the Sunshine State in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary.
The poll by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida was released Thursday morning.
It showed 44 percent would vote for DeSantis, versus 41 percent for Trump.
The question was part of a larger poll with a margin of error of +/- 3.74 percentage points.
Of course, the discussion itself is hypothetical since neither Trump nor DeSantis has announced they’ll run, but polling has had DeSantis in second place behind Trump a year ago and earlier this year.
Both men will be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which starts Thursday in Orlando. DeSantis spoke Thursday at 1:30, while Trump is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m.
CBS12 News reporter Jay O’Brien is in Orlando, covering the conference.
The names Trump and DeSantis have been leading many discussions about the future of the Republican Party. Both call Florida home, so GOP voters around the country are looking at what transpires here.
Trump has vowed to “take back the White House” but has not announced plans to run again.
Allies say Trump is likely to mount another campaign if President Biden looks beatable in the spring.
Several top Republicans have indicated they would not take on Trump if he runs but not DeSantis, who has consistently topped polls of possible Republican 2024 candidates without Trump on the ballot.
Sources say DeSantis’ popularity and his refusal to rule out running against him bother Trump.
Reports of a rivalry between the leader of a state and the former head of state have been going on for months.
Some of those stories have included:
- Trump thinking “there’s no way” DeSantis would even be governor without his endorsement,”
- DeSantis saying one of his biggest regrets in office was not speaking out “much louder” against Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,
- Trump calling politicians like DeSantis who hide their booster status “gutless” in an interview,
- Trump saying something to the effect of, “What’s the big deal? Why won’t he just say he’s not going to run against me?”
- Trump telling a range of aides he isn’t getting the deference from DeSantis that he wants in the pre-2024 leadup, and
- Trump trashing Ron DeSantis in private, calling DeSantis an ingrate with a “dull personality” who has no realistic chance of beating him if they both run.
DeSantis blames the media for all the speculation, saying “All the speculation about me is purely manufactured.”
He has not mentioned the presidency and only said he’s focused on getting re-elected as governor in November.
The poll also asked 685 registered Florida voters of both parties who they’d support, head-to-head, and DeSantis beats both Democrats Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried.
DeSantis beat Crist — former Republican, former governor, and now-Congressman — 55 percent to 34 percent.
DeSantis beat Fried — agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat elected statewide since 2012 — 55 percent to 32 percent.
Finally, the poll asked Democratic voters who they’d support in their party’s primary for governor.
Crist led the pack with 27 percent of the vote, followed by Fried with 19 percent, Annette Taddeo and David Nelson Freeman each with 4 percent, and Amaro Lionheart with 1 percent.
Perhaps the big story is that only 55 percent of the Democrats chose a candidate, while 38 percent said they don’t know.
Of course, November is still a while away and the presidential election won’t happen until two years after that.