Fewer than half of Republican voters would support former President Donald Trump if the GOP primary were held today, according to a new poll that also shows the 45th president losing support among young voters and those with at least a college degree.
The New York Times/Siena College survey shows Trump has the backing of 49% of Republican voters, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with 25%.
Of the other named alternatives to Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) received 7% support, former Vice President Mike Pence and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley got 6% each, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got 2%. Of the remainder, 5% either said they didn’t know whom they would support or refused to answer the question, while 1% said they would support someone else.
Trump’s support skews toward an older, less schooled demographic. Among primary voters under 35, 64% said they would not vote for Trump, as did 65% of those with at least a college degree
By contrast, Trump leads DeSantis 53% to 21% among voters between the ages of 45 and 64 and 48% to 19% among voters 65 and older. Among voters who have attained an education level of high school or less, Trump leads the Florida governor 62% to 19%.
Trump’s hold on the Republican Party also appears to have been shaken somewhat by his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot that has been the focus of a House select committee investigation.
According to the Times/Siena poll, 75% of primary voters said Trump was “just exercising his right to contest the election,” but almost one in five (19%) say the 45th president “went so far that he threatened American democracy.”
The survey also showed a significant anyone-but-Trump contingent in the GOP, with 16% of Republican voters saying that if Trump won the 2024 nomination, they would either support President Biden, back a third-party candidate, would not vote at all, or were unsure what to do.
Kenneth Abreu said he has voted Republican for 30 years, but would switch to Biden in 2024 if Trump ran.
“Unlike all these other people who believe every word he says, I’m done,” Abreu, 62, of Pennsylvania, told the Times. “All the garbage he’s been talking about, the lies, Jan. 6, the whole thing — I just lost all respect for him.”
Richard Bechtol, a Republican from Columbus, Ohio, said he was bothered by Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 and hopes the former president doesn’t run again.
But if he does, Bechtol, 31, said he would back DeSantis or Cruz over Trump in a primary.
In a hypothetical 2024 matchup between Trump and Biden, 44% of registered voters would pick Biden while 41% would choose Trump. While Biden defenders have pointed to that poll finding as evidence the president is a viable political force, the peculiarities of the Electoral College system mean that Trump could beat the incumbent even if he runs a popular vote deficit of four or fewer percentage points.
If the 2024 choice comes down to Biden or Trump, Bechtol said he would go with Trump.
“Biden is getting bullied by the left wing of his party and I worry about his cognitive function as well — actually, I worry about that with Trump, too,” he said. “It’s really a lesser-of-two-evils situation for me.”
John Heaphy, 70, told the Times that Trump incited the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and he doesn’t understand why Republicans have shown support for his claims.
“Trump lost the election,” said Heaphy, a retired software engineer who lives in Arizona. “There are too many people out there that just don’t seem like they believe in reality anymore.”
He said he voted for Trump in 2020, but will switch to Biden in 2024.
Another poll released on Tuesday shows that most voters would rather see a completely different matchup from 2020.
When asked if Trump should run again, 61% of respondents to a Politico/Morning Consult survey said no, with 48% saying “definitely not.” Just 35% said the 45th president should make a third straight White House bid.