The America-First Candidate? Part I

The Republican National Convention’s Annual Spring Retreat is rapidly approaching and a portion of it will be held at Mar-a-lago this weekend where President Trump is expected to speak. Could we see the reveal of Trump’s Candidacy? Or a new America-First Candidate? While  a speech from Donald J Trump is typically enough to dominate the news feed for weeks before and after, this even has another special feature: our first glimpse at the very early 2024 GOP Presidential Primary field. Attendees to the event are said to include: Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Rick Scott, Governor Ron DeSantis, Governor Kristi Noem, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, all names that are turning heads right now.

In February, at CPAC 2021 the straw poll taken by the conservative organization was extremely indicative of the mindset of the GOP moving into the 2024 Presidential election and there are some serious surprises in the polls that have followed. The  CPAC straw poll very predictably showed 55 percent of people polled chose former President Donald Trump to vote for should he run in the 2024 election. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second with 21 percent.


This could make Governor DeSantis the presumptive front-runner of the MAGA movement and the America-First agenda. The next contenders were South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem with 4% and Fmr. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley with 3%, Fmr. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul tied for 5th at 2%.

This was affirmed in a poll which didn’t consider President Trump, where DeSantis dominated with 43% of the vote followed by Noem with 11%, Donald Trump Jr. with 8% and Mike Pompeo & Ted Cruz tied with 7%.

Polls following CPAC however, are starting to tell a different story.

In a shocking reversal,in spite of his perceived betrayal of President Trump on January 6th, Vice President Mike Pence seems to be faring comparatively well in the polls when put up against Governor DeSantis, Senator Cruz and other front-runners.

However, this is only true if President Donald Trump is not a factor. When polls include the elder Trump, he dominates without exception. Even his son Donald Trump Jr. outperforms all other prospective candidates in McLaughlin polls that do not include his father, even the more moderate Ivanka performs respectably. In spite of CPAC results, Governors DeSantis and Noem didn’t perform particularly well.

Setting the Stage for The America-First Candidate

Just as it was in 2016, the Republican primary field is somewhat crowded, but it is also very early. Initial indications show that the America-First powerbase surrounding President Trump (and to a lesser extent his children) is secured as long as Trump participates in the election. This weekend’s developments will be crucial as the President’s anticipated remarks could confer his political support on any one of the so-far secondary candidates. Governors Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem are early favorites that would run counter to polling results. But as 2016 taught us, polls aren’t everything and the unpredictability of Trump’s favor could rewrite the entire board.

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