by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
James Antle of the Washington Examiner writes about the latest developments in the 2024 presidential race.
Former President Donald Trump’s decision to enter the race for the 2024 Republican nomination so early is looking like a mistake as his first major competitor throws her hat into the ring.
Trump hoped to clear the Republican field of competition by deterring any potential competitors, a move that failed now that former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who had once promised to forgo the race if her old boss declared, has joined him as a candidate.
But Trump’s initial premise may also have been mistaken. Instead of freezing the field, he should be saying the more, the merrier.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who has yet to make his 2024 intentions known, does best against Trump in the polls one on one. A recent Monmouth University poll showed Republican votes favoring DeSantis by double digits, with 53% of the vote to Trump’s 40%. Factor others into the race, and the two Florida men were tied at 33% apiece.
An OnMessage Inc. poll commissioned by the conservative American Principles Project similarly showed DeSantis beating Trump 53% to 38% in a two-way battle. The survey did not test other candidates.
A Missouri poll by Remington Research found Trump jumped out to the lead in a three-way race with DeSantis and Haley. FiveThirtyEight summed up the dynamic well: “DeSantis polls well against Trump — as long as no one else runs.”
Whether this applies only to DeSantis or any Republican could inherit his support if they got Trump one on one remains to be seen. But this isn’t a new phenomenon.
Trump won the 2016 GOP nomination by beating 16 other candidates, receiving plurality support in many key primaries. He took 35.3% in New Hampshire and 32.5% in South Carolina, two contests that proved critical to his securing the nomination.