Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ran narrowly ahead of former President Trump in a straw poll of potential 2024 candidates in a survey conducted over the weekend at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.
Of attendees who responded to the survey, 74.12 percent said they would approve of DeSantis for president in three years, compared with 71.43 percent who said the same of Trump. DeSantis won 275 votes, while Trump got 265.
The duo had wide leads over the rest of the sprawling field, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) coming in third at 42.86 percent approval.
The poll underscores DeSantis’s popularity with the GOP’s conservative base.
After getting elected governor in 2018 as a largely unknown House member, DeSantis has since become a darling of the Republican grassroots over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis was notoriously resistant to imposing widespread shutdowns in Florida. The move garnered a flood of criticism from Democrats, who accused him of being too cavalier about the illness, but Republicans praised his policies as a boon to the state economy and pointed out that Florida’s death toll did not stray significantly from those of other states that adopted stricter measures.
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Still, Trump would be a juggernaut if he ran for president in three years and would likely clear much of the primary field.
Neither DeSantis nor Trump has officially declared intentions for 2024, but the former president has teased a third bid for president.