Former President Donald Trump is surging among California Republicans, flipping an 8-point deficit to a large 18-point lead on his primary challenger Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis in the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll for the L.A. Times.
Trump pulls 44% support to DeSantis' 26%, pulling off a 26-point swing in his direction since the February edition of the poll.
"Trump dominates the news, and I think he enjoys that, and I think he gets the sense when he is dominating the news, he's probably expanding his messaging to his base," IGS poll. Director Mark DiCamillo told the Times. "I think this poll pretty much proves that. Even when the news isn't necessarily great, he's able to give his own opinion about why things are the way they are, and the Republican base pretty much believes him.
"What was striking to me, in this three-month period, Trump was getting all this negative publicity from the sexual-abuse trial, and his image actually went up."
California might have already been won for Democrats in the 2024 general election, but its 169 delegates are a winner-take-most for the GOP primary on Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
The poll was tested among 12 GOP primary candidates, but other than Trump or DeSantis none received more than 4% of the likely GOP voters, according to the poll.
Trump's favorability among GOP voters has risen 5 points from 69% to 74% since February, while DeSantis' has fallen 4 points (79%-75%), helping to explain some of the 26-point swing.
Notably, since February, DeSantis lost 11 points among those with a strongly favorable opinion of him (54%- 43%).
Trump was "disparaging DeSantis, trying to push him outside and discount his potential candidacy, and DeSantis' image went down among Republicans," DiCamillo told the Times.
Republican voters are also nearly fully in agreement (86%) with Trump in saying the multiple investigations against him are more about political vengeance than law and justice, and 70% say the probes should be stopped "because they are worsening the nation's political divisions."
Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a special counsel Jack Smith investigation by the Biden administration Justice Department, and a potential indictment from a Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. A large majority of Republicans voters (62%) say it is unlikely Trump committed any crime in those case.
DeSantis is making the case that Trump is attacking him "from the left," he told Newsmax on Thursday, but Trump leads DeSantis (62%-23%) among likely California Republican voters who identify themselves as strongly conservative in the poll.
DeSantis is actually performing better among moderates, because "those moderates are looking for someone other than Trump," according to DiCamillo.
Berkeley IGS surveyed 7,465 California registered voters, including a weighted sample of 1,835 registered Republicans, May 17-22. The margin of error is estimated to be plus or minus 2.5 percentage points in the full sample and plus or minus 3.5 percentage points among Republican voters.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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