Poll: Donald Trump leads Ron DeSantis in South Carolina, but nuances show a path for DeSantis

Former President Donald Trump holds a healthy lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in South Carolina, according to a National Public Affairs poll taken April 11-14.

The poll found Trump leading DeSantis by 22 points, at 43% support to just 21% for DeSantis. 

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served in Trump’s administration as Ambassador to the United Nations, sits in third with just 19% support.

All other potential candidates are in the single digits, with U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina at 7%.

But nuances emerge when considering candidates on a scale. Asked to rate the extent to which they would support a particular candidate on a scale from one to seven, Trump still held a lead among those who indicated they were “almost certain” to vote for him, at 40%, to 20% for DeSantis.

But DeSantis topped Trump 46% to 26% among the share of respondents who indicated they would “somewhat consider” a candidate. That means voters who are either almost certain or somewhat certain to vote for a particular candidate are split between the former President and Florida’s current Governor. 

Trump also has a larger share of voters who aren’t likely to vote for him at all — with 20% indicating they were “almost certain” they would not support him and 8% who said they were somewhat certain they wouldn’t. DeSantis was at 12% and 9%, respectively. 

Haley drops to as low as fourth place in this version of the poll, with 18% “almost certain” support and 42% support from those who would “somewhat consider” her. Scott edges the third place spot among those who will “somewhat consider” a candidate, with 46%. He still trails Haley among those “almost certain” to vote for a candidate, with 16%.

Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney — one of only a few Republicans to vote to impeach Trump and who served as a vocal critic during the House select committee investigation into Trump’s involvement with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — showed the highest number of voters who would not cast a vote for her, at 69%. Only 12% indicated a willingness to consider her for the GOP presidential nomination. 

Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas Governor, showed even less support, at just 7%, though he carried fewer voters who would not cast a ballot for him, at 43%. A full 33% of respondents were neutral on Hutchinson. 

The poll also found Republican GOP Primary voters largely believe the U.S. is providing too much aid to Ukraine, don’t want to increase the debt ceiling unless President Joe Biden agrees to reduce government spending, and want to ban TikTok. 

A full 50% of respondents said the government is spending too much on aid to Ukraine, while only 24% said it’s spending the right amount. Another 13% said the government said more, while 13% were unsure. 

On the debt ceiling, 59% of respondents said the debt limit should not be increased unless Biden reduces government spending, even if it means the U.S. defaults on its debt payments. Only 21% said the debt limit should be increased to avoid default. 

Meanwhile, 59% also said TikTok is a threat and should be banned “to protect the security, lives and data of Americans from the Chinese Communist Party.” Only 27% indicated that allowing the government to “ban any platform where free speech and communication is promoted” would be tantamount to government overreach and would go “directly against Americans’ First Amendment rights.”

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