Now that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially thrown his hat into the ring, Republicans and conservatives of all stripes have a weighty question to answer: Who do they prefer to win the GOP nomination for president – Trump or DeSantis? Liberty Nation assembled a group of conservative voters to find out what they are currently thinking about the choice set before them. The results may surprise you.
These are still early days; the Republican convention is more than a year away, but we want to follow the focus group’s progression before they cast their primary votes beginning in January of 2024. Will the upcoming debates – the first of which is in August – trigger any of those consulted to flip their vote? What other pivotal events might happen that might cause them to alter their original decision?
But before we begin sharing the results, one critical note: This exercise is not meant to discount other GOP candidates, and we stipulate that anything can happen in the time leading up to the convention that could result in yet another person being selected by delegates. However, these two candidates are currently polling stronger than any of the others.
Over 200 people have filed with the Federal Election Commission to become the Republican nominee for president. That number, which may sound shockingly large, increased on the evening of Wednesday, May 24, to 201 when DeSantis made his announcement. However, less than ten are registering in the polls. To that end, former President Donald Trump is leading the pack with a commanding lead of 53%. Another 20% lean toward DeSantis. This gives Trump a 33-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average.*
So now that the stage has been set, here’s where Liberty Nation’s focus group stands.
Trump or DeSantis? Drum Roll, Please!
There was an overwhelming sense among respondents that Donald Trump should be given another shot at the Oval Office. However, their reasons varied.
“I still feel the Trump may be the bitter medicine needed to cure the ills of our country. DeSantis is a Trump-light, not to mention I do not like his speaking voice,” an Ohio entrepreneur and staunch conservative asserted.
A Georgia voter chimed in with, “So I love Trump. He’s crazy, and he’s different. For God’s sake, he’s what we need. You know, I didn’t care about Trump’s comments before, but I may even care less now because our country is way worse off.” She added: “I will tell you one thing that bothers me this time that must not have bothered me before is Trump already ragging about how bad DeSantis is. I don’t want to hear that. I’d rather hear what Trump’s going to do. So, at this point, I’m leaning more toward Trump, but I have to hear more.”
Our third Liberty Nation focus group member is a native New Yorker who winters in Florida: “I slightly prefer Trump because he’s done it before and will do it better this time,” he said. “When he arrived in the White House in 2017, he was a novice and didn’t know enough good people to surround himself with. Likewise, DeSantis would have to figure out the Deep State, etc., which takes time.”
“There is one caveat,” he went on to say. “I’m worried that around 50% of the country still won’t vote for Trump. Should DeSantis get the nod, I worry that Trump will withhold his support, and a good 5-10% of Republicans will follow whatever he says. What could DeSantis offer Trump that he could possibly want? That is a question for me. I’m also not confident that there won’t be massive cheating again by the Democrats – so I’m not confident either man can win unless the economy absolutely goes south and Biden refuses to negotiate the debt limit, causing a default. But I have to admit that selfishly I don’t want DeSantis to leave Florida.”
A couple from the northeast who now reside on the gulf coast of the Sunshine State were quite clear about their preferences. The husband and wife are both unequivocally planning to vote for Trump. “Neither of us liked the [DeSantis] rollout,” the wife wrote. “My husband felt it was too rehearsed and he was merely reading a script. I agree with him that DeSantis’s announcement did not have any emotion nor was he effectively bringing me over to his side. Of course, he made great points, and I agree with them, but it did not make me want to change my opinion.” Then she made a point that echoed those of others in our focus group: “The more they go after Trump, the more people seem to get it. People are fed up with no result, Republicans, no accountability, no jail time, etc., etc.!”
Next, we turn to a Maryland voter who made points similar to the others – but came to an entirely different conclusion. This former librarian told LN: “I voted for Trump in both elections. I believe he will go down as one of the most effective presidents the U.S. has ever had. Unfortunately, he has so polarized the nation with his remarks and all the hanky-panky accusations that I would have to go with DeSantis. I believe he has a better chance of winning the presidential election, given the number of Democrats that find Biden and his group an embarrassment and don’t like Trump any better. DeSantis would, to them, be the safest vote option.”
Last, we turned to a Virginia resident with libertarian leanings who said he planned to “vote Trump just to say ‘screw you’ to the leftists.” He also pointed out, “If someone told you that you could vote for someone and the only thing he could do would be to nominate originalists to the U.S. Supreme Court – which Trump has already done – that would be enough for me to vote for him.”
So there you have it. While focus groups aren’t scientific by their very nature, we have all but one who plans to vote for Donald Trump. Will they maintain that stance? We’ll check back with them after the first debate, which will be held in Milwaukee, WI, in August.
*based on the RCP average for May 25
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