Former President Trump is gaining ground in the 2024 Republican presidential race, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll that offers some of the latest evidence that GOP voters may be coalescing around their party’s standard bearer once again.
Fifty percent of Republican respondents said that they plan to vote for Trump in the primary, marking a 4-point gain for the former president since February. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely candidate for the party’s 2024 nomination, remained relatively stagnant, pulling 24 percent support, according to the poll.
The survey is the latest to show Trump picking up steam in the race for the GOP presidential nod after his support slipped late last year and early this year. For months, many Republicans have urged that the party should move on from the former president, but some recent polls have found that GOP voters may not be ready to do so.
No other Republican hopeful, declared or potential, has double-digit support, the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll found. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who hasn’t yet announced a campaign, got just 7 percent in the survey, while former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who jumped into the race last month, scored only 5 percent.
In a hypothetical head-to-head match-up between Trump and DeSantis, the former president scores 56 percent to DeSantis’s 44 percent, the poll found. Overall, 57 percent of GOP voters who responded believe that Trump will win the party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
Of course, there are still some positive signs for DeSantis. In a hypothetical presidential primary without Trump, DeSantis becomes the heavy favorite, winning 45 percent of the vote. In that scenario, 13 percent of Republican voters said they would choose Pence.
The poll also found DeSantis beating out a long list of political figures in the favorability race. Forty-seven percent said they have a positive opinion of the Florida governor, while 34 percent view him unfavorably. Trump’s favorability, meanwhile, is slightly underwater at 46 percent favorable to 47 percent unfavorable.
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, said that while there are signs that Trump may be bolstering his standing in the nascent Republican primary, it’s difficult to gauge DeSantis’s position in the race because he hasn’t yet announced a campaign.
“Trump showed signs of keeping or even strengthening his hold on the Republican primary,” Penn said. “Ron Desantis remains the candidate with the most immediate potential to take on Trump but his abilities won’t be clear until he announces.”
President Biden fares even worse in that regard; 43 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of him compared to 51 percent who view him unfavorably.
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey was conducted March 22-23 and surveyed 2,905 registered voters. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll.
The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.