DeSantis Has Major Lead Over Trump in Florida Primary Matchup: Poll

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has a significant lead over former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical Republican primary matchup in his state, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

A USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found the GOP governor enjoyed 48 percent support among Republican respondents polled in Florida compared to Trump's 40 percent in a potential presidential primary contest.

That represents a notable shift since the same poll in January found that Trump led DeSantis by 47 percent to the governor's 40 percent in a theoretical head-to-head race.

The latest poll has a significant margin of error when it comes to the Republicans polled. A total of 500 likely midterm voters were polled from Thursday through Sunday of last week and the overall margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent. The poll surveyed 174 Republican voters and the margin of error among those voters was plus or minus 7.7 percent, however.

Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump
In this combination image, Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, pictured in August, 2022 and Donald Trump speaks on May 28, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming. A new poll shows DeSantis leading Trump in a hypothetical Florida primary match up. Getty

Nonetheless, the new figures appear to be good news for DeSantis, who is widely considered a strong contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, though he has not formally declared his intention to run.

"This doesn't necessarily mean DeSantis would lead in any other GOP primary state," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

"But it is one data point suggesting a shift in preferences from GOP voters away from Trump and toward DeSantis from Republicans who know both potential combatants quite well," he said.

Trump continues to be the favorite choice for the nomination among Republicans in a slew of recent polls and he's repeatedly hinted that he will launch another bid for the White House. Like DeSantis, he has not declared his intentions formally.

A Harris poll conducted from September 7 to 8 among 667 registered voters nationally showed Trump leading the 2024 Republican primary with 59 percent to DeSantis' 17 percent.

The USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll also shows that both Trump and DeSantis would defeat President Joe Biden in a hypothetical Florida match up but DeSantis enjoys a larger lead.

Trump led Biden by 47 percent to 44 percent, while DeSantis enjoyed 52 percent support compared to the president's 44 percent.

DeSantis, whos is seeking re-election as governor of Florida this year, has made national headlines in the past week over his decision to fly two planes carrying undocumented migrants to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

The move has been subject to significant criticism, including from Biden, but has pushed the issue of immigration to the top of the news agenda and could boost DeSantis among some conservative voters.

Florida is considered a key state in presidential elections and Trump won there in both 2016 and 2020. Former President Barack Obama won Florida in 2008 and 2012. In a particularly close election year, Florida could decide the outcome of the election, as was the case in 2000.

Trump relocated his primary residence to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida after he left office in January, 2021.