A new straw poll has revealed some rather surprising results regarding conservative attitudes about the 2024 presidential election. At a recent summit, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis edged out former President Donald Trump as the preferred candidate for the next presidential race. While this is only one survey and the election is still years away, is it possible that this signals a shift in the base?
DeSantis Edges Out Trump
The poll surveyed participants at the 2021 Western Conservative Summit, held by the Centennial Institute. The Daily Wire noted that “The company used an ‘approval method’ that allowed participants to vote for multiple responses for each question, including a question about which 2024 presidential candidates they approved of from the dozens of the top contenders.”
According to the Centennial Institute: “The top five candidates, in order of most approval to least, were: Ron DeSantis (74%), Donald Trump (71%), Sen. Ted Cruz (43%), Mike Pompeo (39%) and Sen. Tim Scott (36%).” Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, registered a lowly tenth place on the list.
Earlier this year, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conducted its own study. The results revealed that if Trump decided to run again, 55% of respondents would vote for him. Meanwhile, 21% indicated they would vote for DeSantis.
Is the Base Changing Direction?
With Trump still enjoying widespread popularity on the right, what would explain these results? Despite no longer occupying the Oval Office and being censored on social media, the former president has assumed more of a kingmaker role as he takes aim at establishment Republicans who opposed his agenda. He still wields tremendous influence in the conservative movement.
On the other hand, DeSantis has made quite a name for himself. His staunch opposition to COVID-19 lockdown orders and his refusal to bow to pressure from the left has raised his star considerably. Moreover, like Trump, he has not shied away from getting down in the dirt with activist media that have attacked him relentlessly. DeSantis has taken a Trumpian pugilistic approach to media activists, aggressively savaging them when they are caught lying about him.
But perhaps DeSantis’ appeal lies more with what he doesn’t do rather than what he does do. Unlike Trump, DeSantis has not found himself embroiled in petty feuds with members of the media, celebrities, or others who criticize him. He has avoided the social media gaffes that the former president made. To put it simply, the governor has Trump’s strengths which made him popular with the base without the former president’s weaknesses, which turned off people who weren’t solidly in the MAGA camp.
Much can change before 2024 arrives, but the results of this straw poll might just be an early glimpse into the road the conservative movement will take going forward.
Read more from Jeff Charles.