Post-launch rebounds for DeSantis and former VP Mike Pence? Not according to public polls. A blow to the sen. Tim Scott (SC) after the official kick-off? Yes, but only enough to leapfrog him in mid-single digits, roughly tied for third place with Pence and Scott’s South Carolina partner Nikki Haley.
And more importantly, Trump’s grip on GOP primary voters remains mostly unaffected despite his federal indictment last week on charges he absconded with classified documents from the White House. Nationally, Trump has surpassed the 50 percent RealClearPolitics average since early April — after his other criminal charge, in New York City — and the three polls conducted mostly or entirely after his second charge show him among 51 and 53 percent.
The lack of movement among candidates in an otherwise busy period suggests that racing is, on the whole, stable. Trump leads DeSantis — whose support has faded somewhat since earlier this year — with the other candidates still vying for a foothold. And it is likely that he will remain so for the next two months, until the first televised debate on August 23rd.
Trump: stable with the Republicans, but trouble looms
The first indictment against Trump — charges levied earlier this spring by a Manhattan grand jury in the secret money case involving porn star Stormy Daniels — actually gave Trump a boost in the Republican primary.
It’s not happening this time, at least not so far, though there’s no indication that the federal charges Trump is facing in Florida are making Republican primary voters less likely to say they want him to be the party’s nominee for 2024.
Trump leads DeSantis, his closest competitor, by at least 30 points in three national polls conducted mostly or entirely after news of the federal indictment broke. And it’s just over 50 percent in each of the polls, by The Messenger/HarrisX (53 percent), Quinnipiac University (53 percent) and The Economist/YouGov (51 percent).
On the day of Trump’s first indictment, it stood at 46% of the national RealClearPolitics average, with DeSantis at 30%. Within a week, Trump was over 50%. He now leads DeSantis, 52% to 21%.
But Trump’s sustained strength in the GOP primary belies his tenuous standing with the general electorate. A new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College poll conducted after the indictment and released Friday found that a majority of registered voters want Trump to drop out of the race and about half (49%) believe he has broken the law, in line with other polls showing Americans widely concerned about the Trump’s conduct.
DeSantis: Where’s the rebound?
DeSantis’ 9-point drop over the past two-and-a-half months is also evidence that the Florida governor hasn’t seen much improvement since the launch of his campaign in late May. He was at 23 percent in Quinnipiac’s poll this week, statistically unchanged from the 25 percent in Quinnipiac’s previous poll conducted in the days just preceding her announcement of him.
In fact, DeSantis’ share of the vote in RealClearPolitics’ national average today is identical to what it was on May 24, the day he launched his campaign: 21%.
Of course, the nomination won’t be decided by a concurrent national primary, and DeSantis’ allies have been clear that they’re banking on a strong performance in Iowa, which holds its first caucuses, likely next January.
There haven’t been many independent polls in Iowa lately — the only recent poll in the RealClearPolitics database is from the Trump-friendly online outlet American greatness more than a week ago, but other data streams suggest DeSantis’ Iowa push continues in earnest.
Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis super PAC, is the top investor in Iowa’s airwaves this week, though North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s campaign ranks second (and campaigns generally pay lower ad rates than groups such as super PAC, which means that Burgum’s money will probably go beyond that of Never Back Down).
The Field: Signs of Life for Scott, Christie
While Trump and DeSantis remain stagnant, there are minor moves among candidates struggling to emerge from the lower echelons.
Scott, who kicked off his campaign the same week as DeSantis, has seen a surge in polls. Lui has averaged about 4 percent in national polls since its launch and has reached 7 percent in a Survey of American greatness in New Hampshire this week.
In addition to self-funded Burgum, Scott and its super PAC ally, Trust in the Mission PAC, were top advertisers this week in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, another candidate is also climbing in the polls in New Hampshire: former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
Christie, who launched her campaign last week in a town hall just outside Manchester, is banking on a strong result in the nation’s first primary state. And two polls this week landed him in third or third place: He was even with Scott at 7 percent in the American Greatness poll, and he also hit 9 percent in a New Hampshire poll from conservative website New Hampshire Journal on Friday.