Former President Donald Trump has widened his gaping lead over Ron DeSantis and a crowded field of Republican primary contenders as the campaign edges closer toward the crucial early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Even after he was indicted for a fourth time and skipped the first Republican debate, Trump scored 52 percent of GOP voters’ support in a new CNN national poll. It’s a giant lead over the Florida governor, who stands at 18 percent in the same poll.
Ex-Vice President Mike Pence and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley each earned 7 percent in the survey.
Upstart Vivek Ramaswamy, who grabbed attention at the debate with a series of provocative jousts with rivals, clocked in at 6 percent, a big increase from the 1 percent he registered in a similar poll taken in June.
Trump’s dominance is even more daunting to rivals because his popularity appears to be rising even as his legal woes pile up.
He increased his support from 47 percent over the summer. More than 80 percent of those Trump supporters say there is no chance they will abandon the former president and vote for someone else, meaning he has 43 percent of GOP support locked in.
An even bigger 63 percent majority of Republicans think Trump will be the nominee, regardless of whom they support.
The DeSantis campaign, on the other hand, appears to be locked in a downward spiral, with his support plunging from 26 percent in June.
A series of campaign reboots has failed to reverse the trend for DeSantis and his performance at the debate didn’t light the race on fire either.
The poll of 784 GOP voters and those who lean Republican was taken days after the debate.
Another debate is set for later this month, but Trump has suggested that he will boycott that one too, citing his giant lead.
As Republican voters largely unite behind Trump, they are also largely shrugging off the significance of his indictments on charges tied to his plot to overturn the 2020 election.
Some 70 percent say the charges, which accuse him of seeking to block the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden, would not affect his fitness to serve as president and 61 percent say they are the result of political interference by federal prosecutors.
Those views set the GOP electorate dramatically at odds with both Democrats and independents, most of whom view the cases seriously and say they should disqualify him from a return to the White House.