Though he’s not as well-known to voters overall, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is emerging as a bigger potential threat to President Joe Biden than former President Donald Trump, according to a new nationwide poll conducted for the conservative Club for Growth.
The poll shows Trump losing to Biden 41-48% — an 8-percentage point disadvantage for the Republican that’s outside the poll’s 3-point error margin. But in a head-to-head matchup against DeSantis, Biden gets 42% of the theoretical vote compared to 45% for the Florida governor, which is essentially a statistical tie, the online survey of 1,035 voters from WPA Intelligence shows.
The poll follows a Suffolk University survey last month that also showed DeSantis marginally beating Biden.
To test people’s knowledge of the candidates, WPA Intelligence used a relatively novel approach in its survey by showing voters a picture of each of the three politicians and then asking respondents to either type the name of the man from memory or click an option acknowledging they didn’t know who they were. Both Biden and Trump were known to 98% of the electorate each; but only 64% knew who DeSantis was.
Yet despite that name ID deficit, the 44-year-old DeSantis still out-performed the 80-year-old Biden and the 76-year-old Trump.
“Of all the three candidates, DeSantis is the one who has room to grow … and yet he still has high favorable, he still beats Biden, whereas Trump loses to him,” David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, told NBC News. “As more people start to recognize DeSantis, his face, there’s a lot of upside for him to grow and get stronger.”
The club used to be allied with Trump but began to break with him during the 2022 primaries.
DeSantis, coming off a historic victory in Florida where he won reelection by nearly 20 points, has yet to announce a presidential bid in 2024. But he’s increasingly positioning himself for a White House bid as a number of polls show he would be competitive against Trump, who has reacted by railing against the surveys. Trump is announced candidate and Biden has signaled he will run for another term.