Former President Donald Trump holds 15-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new NBC News poll of the race for the Republican presidential nomination — and the two men the only candidates to win double-digit support from GOP primary voters.
The former president leads the field with 46% of Republican primary voters, followed by DeSantis at 31%. Former Vice President Mike Pence sits at 6%, followed by former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who are all tied at 3%. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, the only other politician specifically named to GOP primary voters by the interviewers conducting the poll, is at 2%.
Trump commands support from the majority of Republican primary voters without a college education, who consider themselves "very conservative," those between the ages of 50 and 64, and those who see themselves as primarily supporters of Trump over the Republican Party as a whole.
DeSantis does not win a majority of any major demographic subgroup, but he does best among younger voters and has support from 49% of those who say they support the Republican Party over Trump.
While Trump still wins a plurality of GOP primary voters with at least a college degree (38%), the majority back another candidate. Twenty-eight percent say they support DeSantis, 8% choose Pence, 6% choose Haley, 4% choose either Hutchinson or Ramaswamy, and 3% choose Scott.
But while Trump and DeSantis are beginning to go at each other, it's clear that for many GOP primary voters, they're the two top options: about two-thirds have Trump and DeSantis as their first and second choices in the GOP primary field.
It's the latest national poll to show Trump with a significant lead over DeSantis, even as DeSantis has performed well in head-to-head matchups against Biden (which this poll did not test).
The NBC News poll also asked GOP primary voters what characteristics they were looking for in a nominee, without naming a specific candidate.
The NBC News poll was conducted April 14-18 of 1,000 adults — including 861 reached by cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
The margin of error for the poll’s 800 registered voters is plus-minus 3.46 percentage points, and the margin of error among the 292 Republican primary voters is plus-minus 5.99 percentage points.