Days ahead of his first visit this year to the state that kicks off the White House race, a new poll indicates former President Trump is more popular than ever in Iowa.
Fifty-three percent of Iowans have a favorable view of the former president and 45% hold an unfavorable view, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey released on Monday.
The release of the poll comes less than a week before the former president’s rally Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. In his first trip to Iowa since he lost last November’s presidential election, Trump is swooping into the state whose caucuses for a half century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar.
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Trump’s favorable ratings are his highest ever in Des Moines Register polling. According to the survey, which was conducted Sept. 12-15, he’s viewed favorable by 73% of self-identified evangelicals and 68% of rural voters. But the poll points to a wide gender divide, with 61% of men viewing Trump favorably, but 52% of women seeing him in an unfavorable light. There’s also an expected huge partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans, with independents split on their views of the former president.
Iowa was once a key presidential battleground state in presidential elections, but Trump captured the Hawkeye State by 9 points in his 2016 White House victory and by 8 points in last November’s reelection defeat.
While Trump’s current favorable ratings are above water in Iowa, President Biden stands at just 37% favorable and 61% unfavorable in the same survey, his worst marks ever in Des Moines Register polling.
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Trump’s marks among Iowa Republicans put him in the same league as GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, who holds a 90% favorable rating in the poll among those in her party, and he tops longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who’s at 81% favorability.
“I did not foresee the day when Donald Trump would be 10 points more popular with Iowa Republicans than the venerable Chuck Grassley,” the survey’s pollster, J. Ann Selzer, told the Des Moines Register.
Trump, who remains very popular and influential with Republican voters and politicians nationwide, has continued to play a kingmaker’s role in GOP primary politics as he repeatedly flirts with making another presidential run in 2024 to try and return to the White House.
Trump issues what appears to be warning shot
A source close to the former president’s political orbit tells Fox News that comments Trump made in a new interview – where he said that if he runs again for president, most other Republicans would “drop out” and that he would beat those who challenged him – can be interpreted as a kind of warning shot.
Trump remains the overwhelming front-runner in all of the extremely early polls in the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen his standing among conservatives nationwide skyrocketed over the past year and a half thanks in large part to his combative push back against COVID-19 restrictions amid the pandemic.
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“I don’t think I will face him,” Trump said in an interview with Yahoo Finance when asked about possibly facing DeSantis in a 2024 GOP presidential nomination showdown. “I think most people would drop out, I think he would drop out.”
But Trump touted that “if I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else.”
The adviser close to Trump’s political orbit, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News he doesn’t think DeSantis is “going to jump into a primary against the president. I truly believe there is zero chance of that happening.”
The source added that Trump’s comments in the Yahoo Finance interview may be interpreted as a warning shot to other potential challengers for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, but “that gives too much credit to a worry that they would get in, because I don’t know that there is a tremendous concern.”
DeSantis, who faces a potentially challenging reelection next year, continues to spark more 2024 speculation with his political trips outside of the Sunshine State. He was in western New York state on Tuesday, keynoting a fundraiser as he continues to haul in big bucks as he gears up for his 2022 reelection campaign.
DeSantis pushed back against 2024 speculation last week, telling Fox News’ host Sean Hannity “I’m not considering anything beyond doing my job.”
“We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in Florida. I’m going to be running for reelection next year and we’re also working on a lot of things in the state beyond just the governor’s race,” the governor emphasized Thursday night on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
The source did not dispute a Washington Post story on Monday that top Trump advisers had to talk the former president out of announcing a 2024 bid in August, as Biden’s poll numbers dropped amid the turbulent U.S. exit from Afghanistan.
The source said the story was “over hyped” but “not an unfair representation of what happened,” adding that Trump’s “serious about looking at this stuff.”
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.