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I told you so. Wooo, wooo, wooo. I'm right, I'm right. BAM!

Hey, Tom Spritzler! The guy who said DeSantis has blown himself up with the abortion and Disney overreach. The guy who said Trump's coming back; will win the nomination and who will go down in the general election like the GOP did in the midterms.

Get ready for Joe's 2nd term unless he starts dribbling on stage, which could happen with the passage of time.

Donald Trump Tops Ron DeSantis in Test of GOP Presidential Field, WSJ Poll Finds

No candidate beyond the two leaders draws substantial support in the still-developing primary race

By Alex Leary, WSJ

April 21, 2023 5:00 am ET

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s original 14-point advantage over former President Donald Trump has fallen to a 13-point deficit. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Zuma Press; Scott Olson/Getty Images

WASHINGTON—Donald Trump has gained command of the GOP presidential-nomination race over Ron DeSantis, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds, with the former president building support across most parts of the primary electorate as the Florida governor has struggled on the national stage.

Mr. DeSantis’s 14-point advantage in December has fallen to a 13-point deficit, and he now trails Mr. Trump 51% to 38% among likely Republican primary voters in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup.

The GOP candidate field is still developing, and the first primary balloting is more than eight months away. But as of now, Mr. Trump also trounces all competitors in a test of a fuller, potential field of 12 Republican contenders, winning 48% support to 24% for Mr. DeSantis.

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, draws 5% support, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott draws 3% in the survey, which included 600 likely GOP primary voters. All other candidates had 2% support or less.

Mr. DeSantis’s strength in the Journal’s December poll came on the heels of his 19-point re-election victory in Florida. But the governor, who has been slow to engage with Mr. Trump for fear of alienating his supporters, has since hit a rough patch as he approaches a formal entrance in the race.

If the Republican presidential primary or caucus were held today, for whom would you vote?

This week, a series of U.S. House members from Florida rebuffed him by endorsing Mr. Trump, and he recently drew GOP criticism for comments describing the war in Ukraine as a territorial dispute.

At the same time, Mr. Trump has stepped up campaign activity—and attacks on his rival—since the Journal’s December poll, and he has enjoyed GOP solidarity in the face of criminal charges filed against him in New York.

The new Journal poll finds Mr. DeSantis losing ground to Mr. Trump among voters who call themselves “very conservative”—a group that makes up about half of the GOP primary electorate. Mr. DeSantis has also ceded substantial support to the former president among women and voters with four-year college degrees.

Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster who helped conduct the survey, along with Democrat John Anzalone and Republican Tony Fabrizio, said that Mr. Trump showed durability with his dominating leads both in the test against Mr. DeSantis and in the multicandidate field.

“If you are with Trump, you are with him,” said Ms. Murphy, whose firm has worked for President Biden. “You can throw 10 other candidates in the field; you can take all of the candidates out.”

Still, the poll finds a number of advantages for Mr. DeSantis in the contest. He carries a more positive image than Mr. Trump, with 84% viewing him favorably, compared with 78% who say so of Mr. Trump. Some 41% of GOP primary voters say Mr. DeSantis would have the better chance of beating Mr. Biden, while 31% say Mr. Trump would be the stronger candidate.

Among the 1,500 registered voters in the survey, Mr. DeSantis leads Mr. Biden 48% to 45% in a hypothetical contest, while Mr. Trump lags behind the Democratic president by 3 points. Both leads are within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for the full sample of voters. Mr. Biden in 2020 defeated Mr. Trump by 4.5 percentage points.

The poll also shows potential general-election vulnerabilities for Mr. DeSantis, who has made electability a central pitch to voters, as he seeks to rack up conservative policy victories during the Florida legislative session.

A six-week abortion ban, which he signed into law last week, is overwhelmingly popular with Republicans but opposed by 53% of voters overall, including 64% of white suburban women, a coveted swing group. By a two-to-one margin, voters oppose allowing people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit, another measure Mr. DeSantis signed into law.

Mr. Biden, who is expected to announce his re-election bid as soon as next week, shows weaknesses as well. His job approval rating remains underwater, with 42% of voters approving of his performance in office and 56% disapproving, matching his December status.

Yet, Mr. Biden draws more support than his 42% job approval rating in test matches against both Messrs. Trump and DeSantis. One reason is that voters who only “somewhat disapprove” of Mr. Biden’s job performance, rather than strongly disapprove, say they would pick him over both potential GOP nominees in the 2024 election.

And Mr. Fabrizio, who works for a pro-Trump super PAC, said that Mr. Biden tops Mr. Trump by a big margin, 54% to 15%, among voters who disapprove of how both men have handled the office of the presidency.

Donald Thomas, 63, of Stuart, Fla., said the indictment of Mr. Trump by Manhattan prosecutors strengthened his support for the former president, who faces an array of other legal challenges. “They are so afraid of the guy,” he said. Still, he worries about Mr. Trump’s chances in a general election. “There’s a certain amount of Trump fatigue out there. He’s got his work cut out for him.”

“I like DeSantis, but he’s still just a politician. Nothing personal, I just don’t think he’ll be strong enough to get our country out of the hole,” said Lorri Phillips, 64 of Terrell, Texas.

Republican primary voters see Mr. Trump as a stronger leader than Mr. DeSantis, 53% to 21%, but also say that Mr. DeSantis has the better temperament to be president, 48% to 25%.

“Gov. DeSantis demonstrates you can be an effective leader without calling people names,” said Eric Carlston, 52, of Sodus, N.Y.

Natalia Charova, a charter-school art teacher in Philadelphia, said: “I’m not tired of Trump; he’s my kind of guy. But there’s too much commotion around him. If you put Trump up one more time, Republicans will lose.” Mr. DeSantis, she added, is “fresh blood.”

Mr. Trump has focused his attacks in recent weeks on Mr. DeSantis’s support while a member of Congress for budget resolutions calling for changes to Social Security and Medicare. The Journal poll found that Republican primary voters by an 18-point margin want Social Security and Medicare to be preserved in their current form, rather than subject to changes that could entail benefit cuts intended to extend the solvency of the programs. Voters who back Mr. DeSantis, however, favor a candidate who will push for changes.


Who do you think will be the Republican nominee for president in 2024? Join the conversation below.

Mr. DeSantis has waded heavily into fights over gender, race and climate. This week he renewed a battle with Walt Disney Co., which opposed legislation signed by Mr. DeSantis that bars teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in early elementary-school grades. On Wednesday, the DeSantis administration expanded that restriction through 12th grade. Mr. DeSantis has also helped push to the forefront the debate over transgender athletes, an issue Mr. Trump has latched on to as well.

In a potential sign of the power of those efforts, 55% of Republicans say that fighting “woke ideology in our schools and businesses” is more important than protecting entitlements from cuts. Some 22% say protecting entitlements is more important.

The Journal poll of 1,500 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for the full sample, was conducted April 11-17 by Impact Research and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points among a sample of 600 likely Republican primary voters.

Write to Alex Leary at

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