Republican voters have soured on former president Donald Trump following a disappointing midterm election for the GOP, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holding a significant lead in a hypothetical head-to-head primary matchup, a new Wall Street Journal poll has found.
The survey of 1,500 respondents found Mr Trump trailing Mr DeSantis by a margin of 52 per cent to 38 per cent among voters who self-identified as likely to vote in a Republican primary in 2024.
Mr DeSantis also holds an advantage over Mr Trump when it comes to favourability among the general public, with 43 per cent of registered voters saying they view him favourably, compared with just 36 per cent who say the same about the twice-impeached ex-president.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans still have a favourable view of Mr Trump, but the portion of GOP voters who view him unfavourably has jumped a full 10 per cent since March, from 13 per cent to 23 percent.
The flagging poll results for the ex-president come just over a month after he formally declared himself a candidate in the 2024 presidential election, and may reflect voters’ frustrations with the ex-president after his handpicked Senate and gubernatorial candidates in key states failed to best their Democratic rivals despite significant voter discontent with the Democratic Party.
Mr Trump’s outsized influence among GOP primary voters led the Republican Party to put forth candidates who he’d endorsed largely on their celebrity status or their fealty to the litany of lies he frequently tells about the conduct of the 2020 election.
President Joe Biden and Democrats running for offices at all levels seized on what they describe as Republican extremism by pushing for voters to cast ballots based on a desire to protect democracy, as many of Mr Trump’s preferred candidates had vowed to upend how elections are conducted in the US with an eye towards making it impossible for a Democrat to win the presidency in future contests.
Despite widespread inflation and a relentless focus on perceived excesses from unified Democratic control of Washington, voters only brought Republicans a modest gain in the House and handed Democrats control of two more governor’s mansions, plus an extra Senate seat that will give them full control of the upper chamber when the 118th Congress convenes on 3 January.
So far, Mr Trump is the only declared candidate from either party for the next presidential election, though Mr DeSantis is one of the many Republicans expected to throw their hats into the ring for the right to square off against Mr Biden, who has said he intends to run for reelection.