OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump has managed to put more distance between him and the rest of the 2024 GOP presidential field in Iowa, where the first primaries will take place early next year, according to a local media report.
“Support for Nikki Haley has swelled in Iowa: The former United Nations ambassador has pulled even with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in what has become a heated battle for second place in the first-in-the-nation caucus state,” the Des Moines Register reported Monday.
“But former President Donald Trump still dominates the race. He’s ahead by 27 percentage points—a lead that has expanded slightly despite his mounting legal problems,” the outlet’s report continued.
The paper cited a new Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucus voters that found 43 percent named Trump as their first choice for president, up slightly from 42 percent in the August poll.
Meanwhile, DeSantis and Haley are tied at 16 percent each. That is a 3-point drop for DeSantis and a 10-point increase for Haley.
“You just have (Haley) rising. You have DeSantis kind of holding on for second place,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the Iowa Poll. “But both of them are on ground that you could only describe as shaky compared to the solid ground that Donald Trump stands on.
“If anything, he’s showing improvement,” Selzer added, according to the outlet.
Trump was already polling well against his primary rivals nationally, but his campaign just got even better news on the eve of Mike Pence’s announcement that he was leaving the race.
“Trump is boasting a 49-point lead over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, this week’s Morning Consult survey found,” Breitbart News reported on Saturday.
“Trump now has support from 62 percent of potential Republican primary voters, which is close to his all-time high of 63 percent in this survey. This puts him 49 points ahead of his closest challenger, DeSantis. The Florida governor comes in a distant second in the lower teens, with 13 percent support nationally among potential GOP primary voters. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley comes in six points behind with seven percent support, followed by Vivek Ramaswamy (six percent),” the outlet’s report continued, citing the survey.
Pence, meanwhile, followed with 5 percent support in the survey, which helps explain the former vice president’s decision to withdraw.
“This is not my time,” Pence said Saturday at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas.
“Traveling across the country over the past six months, I came here to say it’s become clear to me: this is not my time,” the ex-veep told the crowd. “So, after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president, effective today.”
“Now, I’m leaving this campaign but let me promise you, I will never leave the fight for conservative values, and I will never stop fighting to elect principled Republican leaders to every office in the land,” he said. “So help me God.”
“You know, we always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets. The only thing that would have been harder than coming up short would have been if we’d never tried at all,” Pence added.
“Pence’s theory of his candidacy was simple – he broke from then-President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021, and refocused on the core conservative principles that founded the modern Republican Party with Ronald Reagan, his political beacon,” CNN reported after Pence dropped the news.
Pence’s campaign never gained much traction, and he had trouble qualifying for the first two debates. Trump’s base was particularly tough on the former VP after he announced his withdrawal.