Donald Trump won the Conservative Political Action Conference’s 2024 presidential straw poll on Sunday, an expected result that demonstrated the former president’s continued influence among the Republican Party’s base more than a month after his departure from office.
Still, his showing in a hypothetical 2024 GOP presidential primary and the results for another survey question fell somewhat short of the type of dominating performance by Trump that had been expected.
In the possible battle for the next GOP presidential nomination, Trump was backed by barely more than half of the respondents at CPAC ― 55%. Presumably benefiting from the gathering being held in Orlando, Florida, the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, placed second with 21%. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem ran a distant third with 4%, and a smattering of candidates split the rest of the vote.
Veteran Republican operative Karl Rove, noting on Fox News that the CPAC crowd comprised “the truest Trump believers,” said that for him “to only get 55%” shows “he is losing strength because he’s not introducing something new. He’s losing strength whether he recognizes it.”
DeSantis won an alternative poll that did not include Trump as a candidate, with 43% support. Noem, who has seen her popularity rise among some Republicans by refusing to adopt for her state many of the most basic health guidelines for combatting the coronavirus pandemic, ran second with 11%. Donald Trump Jr. placed third with 8%, followed by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, each with 7%.
Mike Pence was backed by only 1%. Though he served loyally as Trump’s vice president, Pence in early January rejected pressure from his boss to play a role in overturning the free and fair November election results that gave Democrat Joe Biden the White House.
A staggering 95% of poll respondents agreed that the GOP should continue to adhere to Trump’s agenda and policies. Also, 97% approved of Trump’s job performance as president, with 87% saying they strongly approved.
However, when asked if they’d like to see Trump run again for president in 2024, only 68% said yes, with 15% saying no and 17% expressing uncertainty.
Following the announcement of the poll results, Trump wrapped up the conference with a lengthy speech in which he hinted at running again in 2024. While he remained coy about that prospect, he definitively ruled out starting his own political party
He also continued to press what’s become known in political circles as the “big lie” ― his false contention that he lost to Biden due to a “rigged” election. His audience, predictably, responded to his falsehood with an ovation.
This story had been updated with comment by Karl Rove.