Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is tied with former Vice President Mike Pence among likely supporters of Donald Trump in a hypothetical 2024 Republican primary — as long as you take the former president out of the picture.
A new survey from GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio, who was a Trump pollster in 2020, has DeSantis and Pence neck-and-neck in a distant second place behind Trump, who is the top choice for a narrow majority of GOP primary voters.
But when Fabrizio combined the results with Trump voters’ second choices, DeSantis and Pence were tied with 22 percent, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz coming in a close third, with 19 percent.
“If President Trump chose not to run, it’s clear his supporters are already gravitating towards VP Mike Pence, FL. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz,” Fabrizio said.
Among the other names included in the poll with Trump on the ballot, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley snagged 6 percent while Utah Sen. Mitt Romney received 5 percent. With Trump included, Cruz received 3 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio got 2 percent.
Others, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) as well as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, received 1 percent. Florida Sen. Rick Scott received zero percent. POLITICO reported Wednesday that despite Scott being a long-running Trump supporter, he has initially had a tough time breaking through with the former president’s loyal base.
“No question at this juncture that President Trump would dominate the 2024 field with no potential challenger even breaking onto double digits,” Fabrizio said.
DeSantis has continued his ascent through the potential 2024 GOP field, as his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is increasingly making him a national star in conservative circles. DeSantis, who is widely believed to be eying a bid for president, largely kept Florida’s economy open throughout the pandemic, a decision that is being rewarded by GOP voters, who increasingly see him as Trump’s favorite governor.
DeSantis has become a mainstay on Fox News and is turning into one of the hottest potential 2024 candidates, with his rise through the hypothetical field mirrored in other recent polling. Last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll saw DeSantis get 43 percent of the vote when Trump was not a 2024 option. Pence received 1 percent.
The momentum nationally is also helping fill the war chest of DeSantis, who has stepped up his fundraising in recent months as he prepares for his 2022 re-election bid. A DeSantis-run state political committee brought in $2.7 million in February alone, the largest single month haul since DeSantis became governor. Of that money, more than $550,000 came from out-of-state donors, according to campaign finance records.
DeSantis’ handling of Covid-19 vaccine destruction has come under criticism from Democrats over allegations that he set up “pop up” vaccination sites in wealthy, predominantly white areas of the state, some of which include GOP donors.
Pence, meanwhile, has remained largely silent since leaving office. The president had lashed out at Pence in the run up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, claiming incorrectly that his No. 2 had the authority to stop the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
This week, Pence authored an op-ed in The Daily Signal where he questioned the integrity of the 2020 election.
The poll of Republicans was conducted between February 20 – March 2, 2021 Using a sample of 1,264 voters who are registered or affiliated as Republicans. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percent.