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Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, on Nov. 7, 2022.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, on Nov. 7, 2022. Michael Conroy / AP file

Eyes on 2024: Divided Trump stands, united he falls? 

Recent polling shows former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the top contenders in the GOP presidential primary.

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New polling from Monmouth University continues to reinforce this truth about the GOP presidential primary: Right now, it’s a two-man show between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump. 

Both men are the only two to register more than 2% in the recent poll, tied at 33% when Republicans are asked an open-ended question about their pick for the nomination (about a quarter say they don’t know yet). DeSantis fares far better in a head-to-head — leading Trump 53% to 40%. 

Another poll released Thursday -- from Yahoo/YouGov — shows a similar dynamic: DeSantis leading in a head-to-head but Trump benefitting from a divided field,. And it’s something that has at least one influential conservative, The FAMilY Leader President Bob Vander Plaats already wondering if Trump will again ride a split field to the GOP nomination. 

In other campaign news…

Sununu enters stage right: New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, who is openly weighing a run for president, argued at a Politico event on Thursday that he’s not exactly a moderate. “I would challenge anyone on conservative credentials,” he said, while also taking a swipe at Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

High energy Trump: Trump expanded on his energy policy proposals in a new video released on Thursday, NBC News’ Olympia Sonnier reports. In his video Trump pledged to “deploy a team of warrior lawyers to hunt down every unnecessary regulation in the federal registry that hampers domestic production,” “issue approvals for all worthy energy infrastructure projects with a focus on maximum speed to bring prices down rapidly,” and “restore hope and aspiration to America’s young people, instead of being irrationally terrified by political predictions of climate apocalypse.” 

Also yesterday in the world of Trump… The former president is back on Facebook and Instagram, and he’s reuniting with his longtime advisor, Jason Miller, who will officially join his campaign again

Pence jumps into culture wars: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s advocacy group is launching an ad buy in Iowa as part of a “grassroots campaign” opposing a local school district’s policy allowing transgender students to request a “gender support plan” without their parents’ consent, per The Hill. Pence is reportedly planning to travel to the Hawkeye State next week.

Cornhusker showdown: Former Nebraska gubernatorial hopeful Charles Herbster is considering challenging newly appointed GOP Sen. Pete Ricketts for Senate next year, the Dispatch reports. Herbster lost last year’s GOP primary to Ricketts ally Jim Pillen. 

Lawler and order: Freshman Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., broke down how he was able to defeat then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney, telling Roll Call, “Folks can underestimate me at their own peril.”  

Chicago’s mayoral race: Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn weighed in on Chicago’s mayoral race with the election less than three weeks away, backing former Democratic Rep. Chuy García over Mayor Lori Lightfoot, per the Chicago Tribune. 

Hogan’s haul: The Hill reports that former Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has raised $6 million the last two years as he considers jumping into the presidential primary. 

Veepstakes: Iowa Republican Joni Ernst told CBS that Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is vice presidential material after her “incredible” State of the Union response. 

The first TV ad of ‘24: Michigan Republican businessman Perry Johnson is setting up a committee for a potential presidential bid, running a Super Bowl ad and traveling to Iowa, per The Detroit News. Johnson ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for Michigan governor in 2022.