by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
More fodder for those who still wonder how much influence 45 has over the Republican Party, particularly conservatives. Here’s the CPAC straw poll from the weekend’s conference. Other than Trump, it appears Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is the rising GOP star for these conservatives.
Speaking of DeSantis, what happens if the former president decides not to run for the 2024 GOP nomination?
DeSantis, a first-term governor and Trump ally who soared in popularity among conservatives nationwide for his resistance to lockdowns and COVID restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, easily topped a second 2024 ballot question – without Trump on the hypothetical ballot.
DeSantis grabbed 68% support on that question, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 5%. Donald Trump Jr. and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were both at 4%, with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at 3%. No one else topped 2%.
Trump’s dominance doesn’t surprise me. Nor does the surge for DeSantis. But what does surprise me is the lackluster showing for two high-profile Texas conservatives. In the chart at the top of this post, you can see that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott received zip, zero, nada. Sen. Ted Cruz pulled a paltry 1%. Without Trump in the race, Cruz only moves up to 4%.