Donald J. Trump might still be the punching bag of choice for the ratings-desperate mainstream media and politically-motivated federal bureaucracy, but the heart of America — the salt-of-the-earth folks the flyover elite ignores — continue to make it very clear that he remains their top 2024 Republican presidential pick.
And that margin continues to grow, irrespective of which poll you turn to.
According to the latest PBS NewsHour/NPR Marist poll, more than three in four Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (76%) favor Trump, up from 68% in February. Recent polling by The Economist by YouGov shows that Republican voters prefer Trump over the far-distant second-place runner, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 58% compared to 25%.
Furthermore, polling executed by data journalism group FiveThirtyEight found that Trump commands over 30 percentage points more than DeSantis, who typically hovers around 20% — far below Trump’s 50-60% average — in a gap that has been steadily widening in recent weeks. The new Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Lab poll reported similar findings. No other Republican in the race garners more than 4% support.
So why is Trump still the flagrant front-runner?
First and foremost, the 45th president of the United States is a marketing genius, but his popularity runs much deeper than that. He is a larger-than-life character who commands attention and presence and is willing to stand up against the bloated bureaucracies persistently trying to tear him down.
There is something strikingly admirable about those who don’t back down to the loud and powerful mob. Trump built a solid movement to put America first, and nothing can shake down the people who want to see their livelihoods prioritized over foreign wars and the interests of the elite. He says what he thinks and speaks the raw truth — a rare trait for a politician of any stripe.
This election cycle is unique in that Trump is running as both an insurgent and an incumbent, a candidate who can prove what he is already done and lay the groundwork for what will come next. He has even managed to secure the endorsement of the majority of Florida’s Republican representatives, a massive slap-in-the-face to DeSantis, who doesn’t seem to be catching fire since entering the race almost two months ago.
Let’s face it — charisma matters. I’ll never forget years ago meeting DeSantis at a fundraiser for his governor run, hosted by Trump at Mar-a-Lago. I brought my ailing father as my guest and tried to engage the governor with some light banter.
He had absolutely nothing to say and couldn’t crack a smile. Meanwhile, Trump lingered off to my right, and his signature New York swagger insisted I bring my father over for a photo and relished in the moment of meeting new people. While it was supposed to be a DeSantis event, my father returned to his Aged Care home and could only talk about Donald J.
While many deep-pocketed donors have turned their hopes (and checkbooks) to the reigning Florida governor, Trump has a well-heeled battalion of small donors — again, the salt-of-the-earth Americans — who feel incredibly invested in seeing him succeed. After all, It takes much more than big numbers from a small portion of wealthy people to win over the base.
And last but certainly not least, American voters need and want a strong figure who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Trump has no qualms in keeping it robust and real, while even the plethora of GOP nominee hopefuls (except for Chris Christie) are more-or-less weaklings afraid to push back.
Ultimately, Trump’s presidency transformed what it means to be a Republican inside the U.S. Beltway. People spoke then and continue to let it be known: they want a change maker, not a stale career political figure who serves their small ring of donors over the working-class American.
Trump remains the only one savvy enough to have figured that out.
Adam Weiss is the CEO of AMW PR, a New York based political strategy and communications firm. His firm has worked with Jim Brown, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Congressman Lee Zeldin, Eboni Williams, Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Andrew Giuliani, Governor Haley Barbour, Steve Hilton. Anthony Scaramucci, and more.
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