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Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks onstage at Liberty University
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in April 14.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

Polls show Trump with big lead over DeSantis. But against Biden, it's a different story

The totality of the data suggests that at this point, DeSantis may have the edge over Trump against Biden.


Polling of the Republican presidential field is clear — former President Donald Trump has a significant lead over any potential challenger, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But it's a different story in hypothetical general election matchups between the two possible Republican nominees and President Joe Biden — with DeSantis consistently performing better than Trump (although those results are within the margin of error).

A new Wall Street Journal poll released Friday showed Trump winning 48% of a 12-person GOP field, with DeSantis following with 24% among likely Republican primary voters. Trump comes out on top of a hypothetical one-on-one matchup with DeSantis 51% to 38% too.

Recent polls have shown a similar trend too, including a Quinnipiac University poll from late March that shows Trump at 47% in a 15-person GOP field, followed by DeSantis at 33%, and with Trump posting a similar lead over DeSantis in a one-on-one matchup.

However, a late March poll from the GOP-aligned Echelon Insights shows Biden leading both men by 3 percentage points.

Virtually all the available general election polling shows results within the margin of error, no surprise considering the national popular vote and results in key swing states are expected to finish with a margin in the low single digits. But the totality of the data suggests that at this point, DeSantis may have the edge over Trump against Biden.

The national Wall Street Journal poll asked registered voters who they'd choose in hypothetical matchups between Biden and each Republican frontrunner. With Trump on the ballot, 48% said they'd definitely or probably vote for Biden, while 45% preferred Trump.

But with DeSantis on the ballot, 48% said they preferred the Republican, compared to 45% choosing Biden.

Those margins are virtually identical to Quinnipiac's findings just a few weeks earlier -- Biden leading Trump 48% to 46%, and DeSantis leading Biden 48% to 46%.

Swing state polling released this week shows a similar dynamic too, including three recent polls from the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies reported on across various outlets (note: POS is the Republican half of the NBC News bipartisan polling outfit).

The Dispatch reported Friday that a POS poll of 500 registered voters in Michigan shows DeSantis leading Biden 45%-43%, but Biden leading Trump 45%-42%.

And McClatchy reported earlier this week that DeSantis leads Biden in Pennsylvania 45% to 42% and in Arizona 48% to 42%, while Biden leads Trump in Pennsylvania 46% to 42% and in Arizona 45% to 44%.

Obviously, it's all so early. Republicans won't pick their nominee for about a year, and DeSantis hasn't even officially announced, let alone spent a year defining himself (and being defined) on the national stage.

But amid all the news about Trump dominating the primary polling, it's worth remembering that the general election polling shows a different story.