Among Iowa voters, Republican voters have nearly equal positive views of former President Trump and Florida governor, according to a highly anticipated poll in the state whose primaries lead to the GOP presidential nomination calendar.
Eighty percent of Republicans surveyed in a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll released early Friday said they have a very or mostly positive view of Trump, while 75% say the same about DeSantis, who has expressed his position with conservatives in the entire country has seen an increase in the past three years.
However, the poll found that the former president’s favorable ratings in Iowa have steadily declined since peaking a year and a half ago.
“And the percentage of Iowa Republicans who say they would ‘definitely’ vote for him if he were the nominee in 2024 has plummeted more than 20 percentage points since June 2021,” the paper said.
DESANTIS PURSUES MORE CONSERVATIVE WINS IN FLORIDA AS IT TAKES TRAIL ACROSS THE COUNTRY
File photos of former President Trump, left, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (Scott Eisen, Spencer Platt)
Trump launched his third presidential campaign in November, with former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley declaring her candidacy last month, becoming the first major Republican to join the former president in the race for the GOP nomination.
Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, ranks very or mostly favorable in the survey at 53%. Four in 10 people surveyed in the poll didn’t know enough about Haley to form an opinion.
FORMER TOP TRUMP OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES PRO-DESANTIS SUPER PAC
Political pundits expect DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence to launch campaigns for the White House later this year, but both currently remain on the sidelines of 2024. Two-thirds of GOP respondents said they had a very or mostly positive view of the former vice president.
The release of the poll comes as DeSantis arrives in Iowa for his first-ever visit, and just three days before Trump returns to the state of Hawkeye for the first time this election cycle. Haley will also be in Iowa on Friday, wrapping up a three-day campaign swing. Pence, who has made numerous stops in the state since the end of the Trump administration more than two years ago, was in Iowa last month.
DeSantis’ journey will be his first this cycle to one of the earliest voting states in the GOP primaries and caucus schedule. He will make stops in Des Moines and Davenport, where he will be joined by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa. He will also meet with GOP state legislators at the capitol in Des Moines.
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
His trip to Iowa and a Saturday stop in Las Vegas — Nevada is holding the fourth game in the Republican primary and caucus schedule — are organized by “And to the Republic,” a recently formed public advocacy group that planned the governor’s recent stops in New York City, and in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Chicago, to demonstrate is in support of law enforcement.
DESANTIS FIGHTS REPUBLICANS THAT ACT AS ‘POT PLANT’
“I know there’s a lot of demand for DeSantis in Iowa, as I think there is in a lot of other states,” longtime Republican adviser David Kochel told Fox News.
Kochel, a veteran of countless GOP presidential campaigns in Iowa and nationally, said, “I think Iowans will keep their wits about them and their powder dry until they see these candidates and I think DeSantis is at the top of the list of who they want to see and hear.”
DeSantis has seen his popularity soar among conservatives across the country over the past three years due to his strong opposition to coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture warrior who went after media, corporations and teacher unions. The governor won a landslide 19-point re-election victory in November. In recent speeches, he has emphasized that his policy victories in Florida can serve as a road map for the entire country.
WHO’S IN IT AND WHO’S ON THE SIDELINES – YOUR GUIDE TO THE 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE
Sources far and wide from DeSantis have said the launch of a presidential campaign will occur in late spring or early summer, after the end of the current legislature. The governor’s latest itinerary — stopovers in New Hampshire and South Carolina, which host the second and third games in the GOP presidential nomination calendar are likely in the coming weeks — is fueling more speculation about an increasingly likely White House run.
Referring to strong Republican performances in November in Florida and Iowa amid a generally poor performance for the GOP, Kochel said, “DeSantis has a real opportunity to show how the red wave that happened in Iowa and happened in Florida based was on a similar philosophy of government with Governor Reynolds, who also won a narrow election in 2018 and a landslide in 2022.”
“I think he has a lot to say in Iowa that Iowans will find very familiar in terms of what he has done and delivered and what our governor in Iowa has also done and one of the reasons she is so popular,” he added please. .
FORMER TOP TRUMP OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES PRO-DESANTIS SUPER PAC
The trip to Iowa comes days after the start of Florida’s legislative session, where DeSantis is looking to win more conservative victories, thanks in part to a newly elected GOP supermajority in Tallahassee. It comes as he travels across the country highlighting his “Florida Blueprint” and promoting his newly released memoir, “The Courage to Be Free.”
When asked last week about his timeline for 2024 on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” DeSantis pointed to the upcoming Legislative Session and his book tour, saying, “We’re going to be doing that over the next few months. As we get beyond that, Then we can decide from there.”
Former President Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, January 28, 2023, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP)
Trump returns to Iowa on Monday. The former president came a close second in the 2016 Iowa GOP presidential caucuses to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the conservative firefighter who was Trump’s runner-up in the nomination race. The former president defeated Iowa — a one-off state on the general election battlefield — by nine points in his 2016 White House victory and by eight points in his 2020 re-election defeat.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The former president will make political and policy remarks, with an emphasis on education, at an event at the Adler Theater in Davenport.
Referring to visits from DeSantis, Trump and Haley, Iowa Democratic Party chairman Rita Hart said Thursday: “I don’t know who will come out of this GOP primary, but the bottom line is that Iowans — and Americans — that cannot afford the extreme agenda that these people are peddling.”
Paul Steinhauser is a political reporter from New Hampshire.