DeSantis Defeated Trump in Recent Straw Poll Among Young Republicans

For the first time, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis emerged victorious over former President Donald Trump in a straw poll carried out at this year’s Young Republican National Convention in August.

The Convention

Organized by the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF), the annual Young Republican National Convention took place from August 16 to August 20 in Dallas, Texas. The YRNF is a group for individuals aged 18 to 40 who align with the Republican party and, according to their website, aim to better their understanding of current political issues.

Throughout the five-day event, attendees were able to listen to speeches from prominent figures like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack, and former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. 

The Poll

During the convention, a poll was conducted among the attendees to see who they wanted to be the next president of the United States. The poll revealed that 36.6% of participants favored DeSantis as the potential next Republican presidential candidate, whereas Trump only had 35.4% of the vote. The remaining top five candidates in the GOP poll were businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (9.1%), former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (7.5%), and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (5.5%). 

YRNF Chairman on the Poll

Hayden Padgett, the newly elected chairman of YRNF,  told  Newsweek that around 850 people, from 21 to 40 years old, attended the convention and voted in the poll. Padgett emphasized that the poll’s intention was purely for entertainment within the group despite criticism from other Republicans online.

One social media user commented on the poll’s results by saying: “Clearest sign yet that Trump’s lead is solid. He has the eccentric wing of the GOP locked up (e.g., populist, nationalist, paleo, etc.). He’s weakest among estab/Brooks Brothers wing (e.g., YRs, CRs, neo, Wall St.). If only trailing by 1.2 points among YRs, he seems dominant.”

Despite the controversy, the chairman also told Newsweek, “I love the debates on the Presidential election that were held during the convention and now again on Twitter. He also gave an unexpected nod toward Biden and said. “It shows how much excitement our members have to take on [President Joe] Biden next year.”

A Dip in Trump’s Support

Trump has generally maintained a substantial lead over DeSantis and other GOP contenders in recent months. However, a recent Emerson College poll tracking the 2024 election since last summer shows a fall in Trump support.

Despite the decline in support, however, the former president still enjoyed the backing of 50% of Republican voters in the Emerson poll, leading DeSantis by a margin of 38 points.

Republicans Want Younger Candidates

Nonetheless, the American youth could have a significant influence on the upcoming election, as shown by their impact in recent elections. The Brookings Institution projected that if voters under 45 turn out at the same rate in 2024 as they did in 2020, they might make up nearly half of the overall vote in the upcoming general election.

Voter interest in younger candidates also seems clear among Republicans. Polls conducted before the initial GOP primary debate showed that the two youngest contenders on stage — DeSantis, aged 44, and Ramaswamy, aged 38 — were deemed the “winners” of the two-hour event.

One survey by The Washington Post/FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos revealed that 29% of surveyed Republican voters believed DeSantis performed the best, while 26% favored Ramaswamy. Whereas Trump, aged 77, was absent from the initial primary debate.

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