Trump’s increasing 'grassroots' support is a troubling sign for Ron DeSantis: election analyst

Trump’s increasing 'grassroots' support is a troubling sign for Ron DeSantis: election analyst

The most enthusiastic cheerleaders for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a 2024 [A1] presidential candidate tend to be examples of what the Never Trump conservatives at The Bulwark describe as "anti-anti-Trumpers." Some of them were Donald Trump supporters in the past but have grown weary of the former president and view DeSantis as the GOP's best chance to move on Trump in 2024 while maintaining a MAGA agenda.

In contrast, Never Trumpers believe that the MAGA movement in general has been terrible for the GOP and the conservative movement and are hoping that President Joe Biden will be reelected next year. Never Trumpers like the Washington Post's Max Boot and Bulwark regulars Charlie Sykes and Tim Miller are not DeSantis fans at all, while firebrand author Ann Coulter and the Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro are enthusiastic DeSantis cheerleaders. Coulter, totally fed up with Trump, is very bullish on DeSantis as a presidential candidate, although he has yet to formally enter the race.

But according to election analyst Seth Masket, director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, Trump's advantage appears to be growing in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

READ MORE: Inside Ron DeSantis' plan to take on Trump from the right: report

In an article published by Politico on May 9, Masket reports that Trump "is regaining favor with once skeptical Republican grassroots leaders — largely at the expense of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — according to my latest survey."

"Two months ago," Masket explains, "my polling of GOP county chairs across the country had some ominous signs for Trump. Despite his vaunted grip on the party, he was basically tied with DeSantis among those who had committed to backing a presidential candidate. DeSantis also seemed to have far more room to grow his support."

Masket continues, "But a lot has happened since then. Trump sharpened his attacks against DeSantis, who has largely declined to respond before formally jumping into the race. Perhaps most important, the former president was indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over his hush money payment to a porn star."

Trump is facing a 34-count criminal prosecution by Bragg's office, and his legal problems don't end there. The ex-president is also facing two criminal investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and special counsel Jack Smith and a criminal probe by Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Willis. And according to Masket, Trump's legal exposure appears to be helping him with Republican voters.

READ MORE: MAGA lawyer: Ron DeSantis will emerge 'a bloodied pulp' if he challenges Trump

Masket reports that he surveyed "roughly 3000 GOP county chairs" and found that support for DeSantis as a possible presidential candidate is "softening."

"DeSantis still has more county chairs interested in him than in Trump," Masket observes, "but his advantage has narrowed considerably…. Overall, this survey suggests a group of party insiders that hasn't made up its mind, but is growing more inclined to back Trump. We’ll learn more in the next wave of surveys whether this trend continues."

READ MORE: Friend to Donald Trump will chair Ron DeSantis’ super PAC: report

Read Politico's full report at this link.

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