May 28, 2023  |  
 | Remer,MN
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Max Thornberry, Breaking News Editor

NextImg:Trump control of key voting bloc slipping as 2024 contest heats up

Early surveys suggest former President Donald Trump might have lost the historic grip he had on some of the most pivotal voters in the country.

A recent survey of GOP county chairs across the country shows trouble ahead for Trump, who has dominated grassroots support in the party for much of the last decade. Of the 187 local GOP leaders who responded to the survey by Politico, Trump was edged out or crushed in multiple scenarios — an early indication his path to a third straight nomination could be in danger.


Former President Donald Trump applauds as he departs after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, Saturday, March 4, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Roughly 3,000 surveys were sent out to every county GOP leader in the country, and responses came from a variety of states, ranging from dark-blue territory in California and New York, to the friendly confines of Texas and Arkansas. More than 90% of the leaders who responded described themselves as “conservative” or “very conservative.”

The greatest threat to Trump’s dominance appears to be his neighbor in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis hasn’t announced his intention to run, a book tour taking him through early-voting states and his trip to Iowa on Friday are sending signals to Trump and voters that he is poised to jump into the race.

Trump’s first loss came in response to a basic question — have any of the leaders committed to supporting a candidate? Roughly half of the respondents said it was too early to get behind one candidate or another. But of those who said they are ready to back a horse in the race, 19% said they were on team DeSantis, as opposed to the 17% who are lining up behind Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.

When asked about whether there were any candidates the GOP leaders had already ruled out, Trump’s position at the front of the pack took another hit.

The former president wasn’t as unpopular as Chris Christie (55%), his son Donald Trump Jr. (51%), or his former Vice President Mike Pence (43%), but 39% of leaders said he was not on their list of candidates they want to see in the general election.

Trump received tepid support when Politico asked about him specifically, but he performed even worse when leaders were allowed to produce a list of candidates they’d like to see in 2024. DeSantis appeared on 73% of the lists. Trump, a distant second place, appeared on fewer than half (43%).

As DeSantis made a trip to Iowa on Friday, Trump lobbed bombs on Truth Social at his expected top opponent. The former president mocked the “very small crowds for Ron DeSanctimonious” and slammed him as being “against Farmers, Social Security, and Medicare.”

“So why would people show up?” Trump asked, “other than Fake stories from the Fake News.”

Trump’s relentless attacks on DeSantis are one thing he has in common with Democrats, who have turned up the heat on the Florida governor.

"DeSantis’s extremism is hindering Florida as he prioritizes false culture war narratives over strong economic policies that would actually help his constituents," American Bridge 21st Century President Pat Dennis told the Washington Examiner. "We will fight his far-right wing extremism, which is already anathema to the women voters who will decide this election, early and head-on."


However, DeSantis has embraced the attacks from Democrats and has ignored salvos from Trump, instead touting his own wins.

"November's election results represent a vindication of our joint efforts over these past four years," he said during his State of the State address this week. "It's also vested in us the responsibility to lead and provide us the opportunity to shoot for the stars. Boldness be our friend in this endeavor. We have a lot we need to accomplish."

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