Trump Towers in Iowa Poll With 42-Point Lead, but Florida Is the Decisive Battleground in DeSantis' Nomination Quest

Former President Donald Trump holds a massive 42-point lead in Iowa, according to a recent survey conducted from May 19- 22 by Emerson College Polling. Trump holds 62 percent of the support among likely primary Republican candidates, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis received 20 percent. 


Trump’s commanding lead out of Iowa reflects similar results from Emerson polling done in New Hampshire on March 3-5 where the former president had a 41-point lead. Both surveys suggested that Trump’s primary supporters were under age 35, with 67 percent of the age bracket supporting Trump as the nominee in NH, and 75 percent of the under 35’s supporting him in Iowa.

Top DeSantis brass and donors are at a private gathering dubbed by organizers as “Ron-o-Rama,” at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami, on a three-day retreat that kicked off hours before DeSantis launched his campaign on Wednesday.

While Trump’s early lead seems formidable, DeSantis’ advisors have downplayed it with skepticism as a “polling sugar high.” They believe that Trump’s numbers are inflated due to garnering sympathy from GOP voters following his New York indictment. Desantis’ campaign projects that Trump’s support is likely to not go lower than 35 percent in the primary, but said that having a floor creates an opportunity for DeSantis to capture a larger share of the remaining 65 percent of the vote.

The DeSantis campaign highlighted the fundraising prowess of a super PAC supporting his candidacy, which has already raised a substantial $30 million, as advantageous to competing and gaining momentum in the early primary states, and in critical later contests with large swaths of delegates, like Florida. Never Back Down, a pro-DeSantis super PAC, reported that more than $80 million of its $200 million budget would be transferred from DeSantis’ old state-level PAC. DeSantis left the state-level PAC earlier this month and it is now controlled by DeSantis’ ally, FL Republican state Senator Blaise Ingoglia. The Florida governor raised $210.9 million during the 2022 election, more money than any gubernatorial candidate has raised in U.S. history.


DeSantis’ advisors said that Florida, the state both the former President and Governor call home, would emerge as a key state that could determine the outcome of the nomination contest. Team DeSantis highlighted that Florida operates on a winner-takes-all system, meaning that the state’s considerable number of delegates will be allocated exclusively to the candidate who secures first place in the primary. The outcome in Florida could either result in a decisive winner of the primary or trigger a contested convention and delegate fight.

DeSantis’ team is averting attention from the tech issues with his Twitter campaign launch by focusing on his fundraising haul. On Thursday night, the campaign announced it had raised $8.2 million in the 24 hours following its launch. 

Trump is not only the front-runner in the GOP primary — he is also polling above Biden in a hypothetical general election. Trump leads Biden in the Iowa poll by 11 points, 49 percent to 38 percent. DeSantis leads Biden in a hypothetical presidential election by seven points, 45 percent to 38 percent. The margin of error for the Emerson polling is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.


While Trump towers in the early state polls, all eyes will be on Florida as the decisive battleground in DeSantis’ nomination quest.


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