Trump’s surprisingly poor showing in the CPAC straw poll

As expected, Trump received a rapturous welcome at the CPAC conference that ended yesterday and went through his usual spiel for ninety minutes, again claiming that he won. He clearly seeks to remain as the leader of the Republican party and thus has frozen the race to be the party’s next nominee in 2024, similar to the way that Hillary Clinton froze the Democratic race in 2016 until she finally did announce her candidacy.

I expect Trump to tease that he is going to run again because he has nothing else to do and he craves the attention that only being a candidate can provide. As soon as he announces that he is not running, he will become largely a non-entity. This way all the people who might be thinking of running will have to kiss his ring.

What surprised me though is that in the straw poll that is conducted at CPAC conferences, only 55% said they would vote for him in the 2024 presidential primary.. You would expect this year to be peak Trump and that subsequent years would see a decline so this cannot be good for him. Florida governor Ron DeSantis got 21% (this year CPAC is taking place in Florida and so he has had high visibility), South Dakota governor Kristi Noem got 4% and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley got 3%.

The CPAC straw poll also asked respondents who they would support for president in a theoretical race if Trump was not a candidate. The results showed DeSantis with a wide lead at 43 percent support.

In that race, Noem came behind the Florida governor at 11 percent, followed by Donald Trump Jr. at 8 percent and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) both at 7 percent.

In 2016, Cruz won the straw poll.

Cruz was named the winner with 40 percent of the attendees’ support, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came in second place with 30 percent. Donald Trump, who was scheduled to speak at CPAC on Saturday morning before pulling out, came in third place with 15 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had 8 percent.

In addition to Trump’s unexpectedly poor showing, other potential candidates who have tied themselves to Trump, like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who both spoke at CPAC, had hardly any support. Rubio canceled his speech at the last minute due to an ‘unexpected family issue’.

So the Republican circus careens on.


  1. JM says

    There are a lot of core Republicans who want him out. They can also do the math and realize the party is stuck in a horrible vice. An anti-Trump candidate might squeak out a nomination but would be doomed nationally because too many Trump followers would sit out. Trump could easily secure the nomination if he runs but would lose the popular vote again and probably loses nationally badly again. What the Republican party insiders are looking for is for Trump to endorse somebody sucking up to him. Trump isn’t really interested in doing that but a fair number of spineless candidates are willing to suck up. They probably figure that the sucking up can’t hurt them but if Trump does sit and back them it could be a huge boost.
    The amusing possibility is that Trump goes all in for supporting Ivanka. This doesn’t make much sense but Ivanka has shown interest in politics and Trump might think he can share the spotlight with her.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    CPAC held this year’s conference in central Florida.

    This facilitated attendance by Florida Republicans, most of them apparently primed to support “native son” Gov. Ron DeathSentence.

    Local boy made good:

    … Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in second place at 21%. … CPAC also took a poll without Trump. DeSantis won that poll with 43% …

    We who live in Florida have grown quite accustomed to rigged votes, why do you ask?

  3. KG says


    You’re overlooking the enormous effort the Republicans are putting into vote suppression. Given the advantage the electoral college gives them (just 22,000 votes moving from Biden to Trump in the right places -- from Trump’s POV -- would have given the latter a “legitimate” win in 2020, despite a 7 million vote deficit) their voter suppression efforts could give them every chance of winning the Presidency back in 2024, whoever their candidate is. That’s why it’s vital for the Democrats to scrap or at least restrict the absurd filibuster and push through legislation to protect voting rights, and extra SC judges to prevent it being gutted. But with DINOs like Manchin in place, it’s hard to see even the first of those happening.

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