Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis beats Trump in 2024 presidential straw poll

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends a press conference at the Shul of Bal Harbour on June 14, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. The governor spoke about the two bills he signed HB 529 and HB 805. HB 805 ensures that volunteer ambulance services, including Hatzalah, can operate. HB 529 requires Florida schools to hold a daily moment of silence. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received more votes than former President Donald Trump in a non-partisan straw poll asking voters about their preferred presidential candidate for the 2024 election at the Western Conservative Summit, one of the largest annual gatherings of conservatives.

Seventy-four percent of the attendants at this weekend’s gathering at the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s public policy think tank, “approved” of DeSantis as a 2024 presidential candidate, while 71% said they preferred Trump over dozens of the other top contenders, both Republican and Democratic.

Neither DeSantis nor Trump spoke at the event, which was held both live in-person and online with the theme “Frontier Freedom.”

The other top candidates, in order of most approval to least, included Sen. Ted Cruz (43%), Mike Pompeo (39%) and Sen. Tim Scott (36%), according to a statement by the Centennial Institute.

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem received approval from about 30% of the poll participants, followed by Sen. Tom Cotton at 29.92%, Sen. Rand Paul at 27.76%, and Donald Trump Jr. at 24.8%.

Former Vice President Pence came in 10th place.

President Joe Biden was ranked at No. 16 with 2.3%.

The poll, called the 2021 Western Conservative Summit Approval Voting Poll, also asked attendees to mark any of 25 policy issues as most important to them.

“The top five most important issues were immigration/border security (82%), election integrity (79%), religious freedom (75%), federal budget/deficit (74%), and gun rights (74%).”

Issues at the bottom of the list included police reform (12.43%), race and racism (10.81%), COVID-19 (9.19%), environment/climate change (8.65%), diversity, equity and inclusion (5.68%), and LGBTQ (4.86%).

In a 2024 presidential straw poll held at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Trump beat DeSantis in receiving approval for his policies and agenda but not in the question covering a field of potential candidates, as The Christian Post reported at the time. 

Attendees at CPAC said if Trump decides not to run in 2024, DeSantis would win the support of a plurality (43%) of conservatives gathered at that conference. 

The top five issues at CPAC were election integrity (62%), constitutional rights (48%), immigration/border wall (35%), reopening the economy (32%), and Second Amendment (26%).

In his speech at CPAC, DeSantis said to those gathered: “We can sit around and have academic debates about conservative policy, we can do that. But the question is, when the Klieg lights get hot, when the left comes after you: Will you stay strong, or will you fold?”

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