The latest NBC News poll has generated excitement within both the Trump and DeSantis campaigns, but for different reasons. Trump supporters are celebrating his continued dominance in the Republican primary field, with a commanding 51 percent majority. In second place is Governor Ron DeSantis, trailing Trump by almost 30 percentage points nationally, while no other candidate has reached double digits. This strong showing positions Trump as a front-runner for the nomination, especially if he maintains his lead in early primary states and potentially bypasses primary debates, as he has hinted.
However, the survey’s general election ballot presents a different story, which DeSantis supporters are eagerly sharing. Nationally, the poll shows Trump trailing the unpopular incumbent Joe Biden by four percentage points, whereas DeSantis is in a statistical tie with Biden. In crucial battleground states, DeSantis outperforms Trump even more prominently. The data reveals DeSantis leading Biden by six points across key battlegrounds, while Trump trails Biden by two points in the same states. Notably, a “generic Republican” performs better than Trump in these metrics, both nationally and in swing states.
This trend mirrors what occurred during the 2022 midterm elections when “generic” GOP candidates outperformed those aligned with Trump. The Republican Party saw weaker-than-expected results among non-affiliated voters, which dampened the anticipated red wave. Looking ahead, DeSantis’ appeal lies in his perceived ability to defeat Joe Biden, especially given Trump’s previous loss to him. This independent survey reinforces the notion that DeSantis could have a stronger chance against Biden, as indicated by results from a DeSantis-aligned pollster in crucial swing states like Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
While DeSantis’ prospects in a general election appear favorable, he still faces the hurdle of securing the nomination. If the primaries were to begin immediately, he would not be the frontrunner. Although there is a possibility for Trump to win the presidency again in 2024, it is important to acknowledge that other Republican candidates have demonstrated greater appeal to voters in recent years. Trump’s chances are lower based on voter preferences during this period. These findings make Biden’s vulnerability apparent, given the current public sentiment.
One might assume that with such widespread dissatisfaction with Biden’s policies and Democratic extremism, the opposition party would have an easy path to victory. However, last November’s election outcome reminds us that voter preferences can be unpredictable. Even with discontent towards the Democrats, the Republican Party needs to offer an alternative that can attract a crucial group of voters who may not support Trump. Ultimately, it is up to GOP base voters to make their decisions based on this information and shape the future of the party.