Former US President Donald Trump has bolstered his lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a poll of potential Republican presidential contenders for 2024. Trump took 74% support among Republican voters, compared to DeSantis’s 12%, in the survey by Fox News, which was carried out earlier this month. The findings came as reports emerged that a grand jury in New York has paused its investigation into possible financial irregularities related to Trump’s business dealings, raising speculation that no immediate charges were to be filed.
In a bout of increasingly hostile rhetoric towards DeSantis, Trump has accused him of wanting to cut social security and raise the retirement age. The former president also called his rival “Ron DeSanctimonious” and a “mediocre governor,” and claimed credit for getting him elected in Florida. Several recent polls have indicated that Trump has extended his lead over DeSantis who has yet to declare his candidacy, but is widely expected to run.
No other candidate polled, in the Fox News survey, registered in double figures. Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, was in third place on 6%, while Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina Governor and declared contender for nomination, was next on 3%. However, the poll also indicated a growing number of Democrats want President Joe Biden to be the party’s nominee again in 2024, up to 44% from 37% in February.
Daron Shaw, who conducted the poll, implied that rumours that Trump is going to be indicted by the district attorney in Manhattan had assisted his support among Republican primary voters. “They view the case as politically motivated, and it re-animates feelings that Trump is still fighting forces they see as corrupt and out of control,” he said. While there has been no official confirmation of an investigation in Manhattan, the New York Attorney General’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into whether the Trump Organisation manipulated property values in order to obtain loans and tax benefits.