Former President Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll by a wide margin for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination as the race for the White House begins to heat up.
Trump emerged victorious with 62% of the conference’s 2,028 attendees selecting the former president as their preferred choice to win the GOP candidate for a third time. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP rival, came in a distant second place with 20% of the support. The straw poll results were announced shortly before Trump was scheduled to close out the annual conservative influential gathering Saturday evening.
Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, who announced his long-shot bid for president Thursday night but didn’t mention when he spoke on Friday came in third with 5% of the vote. Johnson tried to run for governor last year in Michigan but failed to qualify for the GOP primary ballot after being short of the 15,000 valid petition signatures needed due to nearly 7,000 of those signatures submitted were deemed fraudulent.
The two other declared 2024 GOP candidates, former United Nation Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy trailed at fourth and fifth place, netting 3% and 1% of the support respectively.
Meanwhile, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, all each garnished just 1% of the vote. Other potential 2024 candidates including Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and former Vice President Mike Pence all failed to break 1%.
Trump has dominated first place in the CPAC straw poll with overwhelming support since 2019. However, since Trump left office in 2021, DeSantis’ support has also increased among CPAC attendees. In 2021, CPAC opted not to cancel its annual confab amidst the COVID pandemic and decided to move the conference to Orlando, Florida due to Maryland public health gathering restriction. That year, Trump garnished 55% of the support to DeSantis 21%. Last year, Trump would attract 59% of support with DeSantis coming in second place with 28%. The former President also garnished a large lead at the CPAC second summer gathering held in Dallas, Texas last August with 69% of conference attendees with 24% preferring DeSantis.
For potential vice presidential nominee, Kari Lake, who ran for Arizona gubernatorial last year but lost, was considered among the conference attendees’ as their first choice out of nearly 30 Republican contenders, garnishing 20% of support. DeSantis came in second with 14% of support received with Haley coming in third with 10%.
Other questions asked included their current views on the direction of the United States, the job performance of President Biden along with whom they think will be the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2024, their feelings towards House Republicans’ performance, and whether they approve or disapprove on the Biden administration giving billions of aid to Ukraine.
On Ukraine, 79% disapprove of the U.S. giving billions of dollars in aid and military weapons to help them fight the war against Russia, while 61% strongly disapprove. Over 97% said they disapprove of Biden’s job performance, down two percentage points from the 2022 straw poll response. Roughly four out of 10 polled believe Biden will run for re-election, while 21% think California Gov. Gavin Newsom will 2024 Democratic nominee. Vice President Kamala Harris came in fourth place with only 6%, behind former First Lady Michelle Obama who garnished 14% of the vote.
While the straw poll has been closely watched since Trump left office in 2021, it is not a reliable indicator of the eventual Republican presidential nominee. In 2016, Cruz was named the winner with 40% of the nearly 2,700 attendees’ support with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) coming in second place with 30%. Trump came in third place that same year the event was held in the midst of the Republican primary, pulling out from participating at the conference at the last minute, instead opting to campaign in Kansas and Florida.
DeSantis, who has yet to announce his 2024 intentions is considered widely to launch a bid sometime in early spring, according to sources close to the governor. The Florida governor has seen his popularity soar among conservatives across the nation in the last few years following his strong pushback against COVID restriction in the Sunshine State that had led to a boom of population from residents fleeing lockdown blue states of New York and New Jersey. Many conservative donors are pushing for DeSantis to run following his nearly 20-point gubernatorial re-election victory last November that has led to the once popular swing state become a solid strong red state.
DeSantis didn’t speak at CPAC this year, instead headlining the first day of a dueling conservative group the Club for Growth three-day donor retreat held in Palm Beach. The Florida governor spoke to nearly 120 top GOP donors before jetting off to political and donor events on the West coast — making a stop in Texas before heading to California over the past weekend.
The two other declared 2024 Republican candidates — Haley and Ramaswamy spoke at both CPAC and the Club for Growth donor retreat. Trump, however, wasn’t invited to the Club for Growth donor retreat. Pompeo addressed the crowd at CPAC but didn’t attend the donor retreat, while Pence, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, and Scott (R-S.C.) all didn’t attend CPAC, but spoke at the Club for Growth retreat over the weekend.
CPAC returned to National Harbor, Maryland after two-years of the convention being briefly held in Orlando, Florida. However, this year annual conservative confab was reported to been “diminished” due to major big name GOP speakers being MIA and major sponsors such as Fox News withdrawing its support following allegations that CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp is currently being sued by a former staffer of Georgia Republican Senate campaign of Hershel Walker over allegation of sexual misconduct. Along with DeSantis, Pence and Scott (R-SC) being missing, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also did not attending the conservative confab which normally drew bigger names and crowd ahead of a presidential or midterm elections in the past.20242024 Election2024 Presidential Run2024 WatchCPACCPAC 2023CPAC Straw PollDonald TrumpGov. Ron DeSantis