In the constantly evolving world of American politics, early poll results often become the subject of debate – especially during a presidential election season. Pundits, analysts, and other members of the chattering class are quick to draw certain conclusions about the numbers.
This is especially true of the Republican primary race. Currently, former President Donald Trump maintains a healthy lead in the polling and has continued to dominate the race since he first announced his candidacy. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, once viewed as a potentially formidable opponent, trails the former president by over 40 points, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average. The fact that the governor’s campaign has experienced some serious setbacks seems to further solidify Trump’s lead.
However, as Lenny Kravitz says, “It Ain’t Over ‘Till Its Over.”
In fact, another recent poll shows that DeSantis might actually be in a better position than it seems. A YouGov/Economist survey recently analyzed attitudes among Republican voters. The results showed that Trump still remains the top choice for conservative voters by a 39-point margin, with 51 percent of respondents backing him. DeSantis pulled about 12 percent support while Nikki Haley and Mike Pence remain in single digits. However, as RedState’s Manic Contrarian warned, we must be careful about fully trusting flash polls – especially those conducted this early in the process.
What is noteworthy about this particular survey is the question about which candidate Republicans would choose as their second choice if their first pick does not work out. When it comes to those numbers, DeSantis is far and away the favorite, garnering 24 percent support. Even Trump did not come close to challenging the governor, when it comes to being the second choice; he got only eight percent. The closest contender to DeSantis would be entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who got 12 percent.
This might not sound like good news for the governor. After all, who wants to be people’s second choice? But this is significant for a few reasons.
For starters, what is going to happen when primary candidates start dropping out of the race? The Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are almost upon us, and it is likely that we will begin seeing some of the contenders end their campaigns. This means that most of those who supported these individuals will throw their support behind DeSantis, which will put him in a much better position to challenge the former president. Indeed, as the race narrows, the governor stands to benefit the most.
Moreover, four indictments still loom large over Trump’s campaign. While the politically motivated charges against the former president have only helped him in the primary race, what would happen if he ends up facing jail time before the primaries are concluded?
At this point, it is not easy to see how this would change things. It could easily strengthen his support among the base. But it is also possible that, depending on the nature of the charges and the evidence presented, it might damage his campaign enough to motivate his supporters to fall back on their second choice: Ron DeSantis.
Of course, it is impossible to predict how this will play out just yet. But while Trump remains the clear frontrunner, anything can change as the primary season rolls on.