Attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando selectedas their favorite for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, with 59% of voters selecting Trump in the annual gathering's straw poll.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trailed Trump by more than 30 points, winning 28% of the straw poll, which included 2,574 attendees. Without Trump on the ballot, DeSantis won the support of 61% of attendees, including two-thirds of Trump supporters.
The straw polls are conducted anonymously through the CPAC app at the conference, where attendees tend to skew toward the right wing of the party.
With Trump on the ballot, no one besides DeSantis cracked 2% of the vote. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received 2% of support. Senator Rand Paul, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, former U.S. ambassador the U.N. Nikki Haley, Senator Ted Cruz, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and former Vice President Mike Pence all received 1% of the vote. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a favorite among moderates, did not receive any votes, pollster John Mclaughlin said.
In a hypothetical matchup without Trump on the ballot, Pompeo received 6%, Trump Jr. 6%, and Cruz, Paul, Noem each got 3%. Youngkin and Haley each received 2%. Pence and Senators Josh Hawley, Rick Scott, Tim Scott, Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton all received 1%, along with former Trump Housing Secretary Ben Carson. 2012 GOP nominee Senator Mitt Romney received 0.3%, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received 0.2%, former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Hogan each received 0.1%.
Trump's presence loomed large over CPAC, where 97% of attendees said they approved of him. TheSaturday night, blaming President Biden for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Trump also heavily criticized Democrats and insisted a GOP comeback was on the way.
"[Democrats] are going to find out the hard way starting on November 8, and then again even more so in November 2024. They will find out like never before. We did it twice. We will do it again. We are going to be doing it again a third time," Trump said.
DeSantis, considered a rising star by many within the party, did not mention Trump in his speech last Thursday. He also did not mention Russia's invasion of Ukraine, instead focusing on his own term as governor of Florida and lambasting the media and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden's chief medical adviser who is often a punching bag for the right wing.
"They are not in the business of telling the truth, they want to spin partisan narratives," DeSantis said about the media. "They're defending the regime in power, if you speak up, they'll defame you. They concoct a blizzard of lies," he said, adding that they would continue this going into November to protect the "Brandon" administration.
Attendees were undecided on who would be the Democratic nominee in 2024, with 23% saying they were unsure. But surprisingly, the Democrat who got the highest number of responses from attendees was Hillary Clinton, who 22% of attendees thought would be the nominee. After Clinton, 17% thought Michelle Obama would get the nod, followed by Mr. Biden, with just 14% of attendees saying he would be the nominee. Eleven percent said Vice President Kamala Harris would be the party's pick.
Ninety-nine percent of attendees said they disapproved of Mr. Biden, and 98% said they "strongly" disapproved of his policies. As for the greatest threat to the country, 61% said Mr. Biden's "incompetence," followed by 35% who said China and 3% who said Russia.
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