Two new polls released in the last two days both find former President Donald Trump’s support slipping among Republican primary voters, who are increasingly turning toward Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. He conducted the poll, released Tuesday, for USA Today.
Among his findings:
- Just 31 percent of Republican primary voters said they want Trump to run again, while 61 percent want “another Republican nominee who would continue the policies Trump pursued.”
- Two-thirds want Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) to throw his hat in the ring.
- In a head-to-head, they prefer DeSantis over Trump, 56-33 percent.
- Among all voters, Biden would win a general election against Trump, but he loses to DeSantis 47-43 percent.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal released a poll with similar findings.
“In a hypothetical contest between the two, Mr. DeSantis beats Mr. Trump, 52% to 38%, among likely GOP primary voters contemplating a race in which the first nomination votes will be cast in just over a year,” they report. And while 74 percent of Republicans still have a favorable view of Trump, that number is down from 85 percent.
These are just the latest in a series of polls showing support for Trump fading in the wake of the dismal performance of his endorsed candidates in last month’s midterm elections. With Herschel Walker’s defeat in Georgia’s runoff, Trump’s U.S. Senate picks in winnable swing states all went down to defeat, including Don Bolduc in New Hampshire. Trump also faces ongoing legal challenges and continues to push election denial conspiracy theories unsupported by either the facts or the vast majority of voters.
But perhaps as significant as what these polls say is what Trump supporters in the Granite State are saying.
NHJournal contacted a dozen Granite State Republicans who have either actively supported Trump or voted for him in the past. The vast majority were unwilling to defend Trump on the record or express optimism about the current state of Trump’s campaign. The volume of pro-Trump advocacy on social media has also dropped, despite the Elon Musk era arriving at Twitter. And as of late Tuesday night, the far-right, pro-Trump website Granite Grok did not have a single headline mentioning Trump in its top 10 pages of posts.
This is in stark contrast to the 2016 and 2020 election cycles when Trump supporters in the GOP were vocal in their support for the political outsider.
One exception is current New Hampshire GOP state chair Steve Stepanek, who isn’t running for re-election and is widely believed to be going to the Trump 2024 campaign.
“In 2015 everyone laughed at Trump running. They said he was not a serious candidate and he would never win the Republican primary, let alone the Presidency,” Stepanek said. Despite that and despite the Democrats and the various federal agencies working to undermine his campaign, he still won. I would caution anyone about counting out President Trump and his ability to rally to motivate the average hard-working middle-class American citizen to come out and vote for him.”
Meanwhile, Republicans ready for Trump to move on have been vocal about their views.
“Trump has been reduced to a Vegas act who can no longer fill the big room. He’s increasingly looking like a guy who has lost a relevant way forward,” said Republican political strategist Patrick Griffin. “He is now seen as more of a liability to winning to Republicans, not a secret weapon for success. The former president’s behavior, his rhetoric, and his poor judgment in endorsing candidates have earned him the dreaded moniker: ‘Loser.’
“It’s looking like Trump has finally met his match,” Griffin added. “Turns out — it’s him.”
At the national level, some Trump supporters are either uncertain about Trump’s plans for the future, or his ability to execute them.
“I’m still not convinced he’s all-in,” one-time Trump loyalist Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told Politico regarding former Trump supporters remaining on the sidelines. “Losing another election could be very damaging to his pride. It’s all so unsettled.” Only one sitting U.S. Senator, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, has endorsed Trump’s bid.
And outspoken Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said nobody should expect a coronation in the upcoming presidential primary.
“In ’24, we’re going to have a spirited contest for the nomination to be president. We have a very favorable map, and after being disappointed in 2022, I think people are going to up their game [because] they don’t want to do this twice,” Graham said.
Some Granite State Republicans say polling at this point is irrelevant, regardless of the findings.
“It’s early and way too soon to draw any conclusions from polls,” said Greg Moore, head of Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire. “Right now, Trump’s the only candidate in the race, so it’s not even really a race. Folks in New Hampshire should be focused on enjoying their Christmas.”
But potential Trump rivals like former Vice President Mike Pence are already appearing in the state while Trump has largely remained at Mar-a-Lago where, according to reports, he is handling his social media communications himself. The results, pundits say, have not been impressive.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a potential 2024 candidate, told The New York Times that Trump no longer has the political heft to keep other candidates out of the primary.
“I think it’s going to be a tossup for a lot of different candidates,” Sununu said, adding Trump, “Is not clearing the field. He’s not scaring anyone out of the race by any means.”
Paleologos says the Trump issue is vital to the Granite State GOP because the former president is so unpopular among independent women voters.
“Independent women prevented a red wave in the 2022 midterms. Instead of voting overwhelmingly Republican, like independent men did, they broke off and voted against Trump-endorsed Senate candidates like Don Bolduc in New Hampshire. Maggie Hassan’s win and her margin of victory were driven by independent women who more than offset Bolduc’s advantage among independent men.
“New Hampshire Republican candidates, both for president and state offices, need to figure out how to win over independent women in the general election and to navigate the shrinking core of support within the Republican Party — all without alienating the Trump base.”