(The Hill) – Former President Donald Trump emerged victorious in the much-anticipated Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) presidential poll, earning a solid majority of support in a hypothetical primary game and cementing his status as a great favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination among the most dedicated conservatives.
The straw poll, which received responses from more than 2,500 conference attendees, found 59% backed Trump for the 2024 Republican nod, a slight increase from last year’s poll, which showed him 55% support.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished a distant second with 28% support, making him the only other potential candidate to garner double-digit support. In last year’s poll, DeSantis got 21% support.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finished in third place, with just 2% support.
The Straw Poll confirmed two trends that were evident throughout the four days of this year’s CPAC in Orlando, Florida.
Nearly 15 months after losing his 2020 re-election bid, Trump remains hugely popular among the conservative GOP base and would likely run away with the 2024 Republican presidential nomination if he mounted a comeback bid.
Eighty-five percent of those polled said they would support Trump again in 2024 if he launched another campaign for the White House.
But the straw poll also reaffirms DeSanti’s growing power among conservatives, many of whom are hungry for new leadership in the years to come.
When asked who they would support in a hypothetical Republican presidential primary if Trump wasn’t on the ballot, nearly two-thirds of participants — 61% — chose DeSantis. Pompeo is tied for second place with Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. Both got 6% in the straw poll.
Throughout the four-day conference, attendees repeatedly said they continued to support Trump, but also expressed growing interest in DeSantis, who has made a name for himself in recent years for his strong opposition to the mandates and restrictions related to Covid-19 and has repeatedly resisted the advice of public health officials.
Still, Trump’s overall approval among CPAC attendees remains overwhelming. Ninety-seven percent of respondents said they approved of his performance during his tenure as president, including 83 percent who strongly approved of him.
The straw poll also illustrates how deeply Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud has penetrated the conservative GOP base. A plurality of straw poll respondents – 49% – said election integrity is the most important issue to them, while 48% highlighted immigration.
The straw poll results also reflected the continued fixation within the conservative movement on Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.
When asked who they think would be the 2024 Democratic nominee, 22% of respondents nominated Clinton, while 17% said former First Lady Michelle Obama. Only 14% think President Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee in two years.
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