OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
It is commonly believed at this point that Donald Trump is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party and the de facto front runner for the party’s nomination for president in 2024.
But politics is an interesting animal and there is another who may be as popular as Trump, and who just narrowly defeated him in the Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll for the 2024 presidential election. And that man is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Colorado Politics reported.
DeSantis led the vote with about 75% to Trump’s roughly 72% in the highly unscientific poll, which was conducted online using the approval voting method.
The summit, in its 12th year, is sponsored by Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute and drew around 500 people on Friday and Saturday to a downtown Denver hotel, plus an audience numbering in the tens of thousands who watched online, organizers said.
Other possible Republican presidential contenders trailed, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz nabbing 42% support, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finishing just under 40%, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott at 37% and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton nearly tied, with about 30% each.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul got 29%, former first son Donald Trump Jr. got about 25% and former Vice President Mike Pence got 21%.
The approval voting method allows voters to pick multiple candidates, which “minimizes spoilers and sabotage and gives viability and visibility to minor candidates,” according to Frank Attwood, who conducted the poll and runs Approval Voting USA, an organization that promotes its use. Because voters could make any number of choices, the percentages add up to more than 100.
The poll included Democrats like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others. None of whom finished anywhere near the top as it was held at a conservative conference.
It is also important to note that previous straw polls have not done a stellar job of picking nominees. In 2011 the poll was won by Herman Cain, Sen. Marco Rubio won in 2012 and Sen. Td Cruz took the honors in 2013.
In 2014 and 2015 the poll was won by Dr. Ben Carson but in 2016 it did correctly pick Trump, though had former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pegged as his vice president.
And while it is likely that the nomination belongs to Trump if he wants it, there is significant speculation that Trump may have his eyes on the Speaker of the House position in 2022, rather than waiting for the presidency in 2024. And that is something that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy does not appear to be too keen on.
Speaking to Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy addressed the exact scenario in which Trump would lead Republican representatives as Speaker of the House if they retake the chamber during the 2022 midterms. As the current House Republican leader, McCarthy would be the obvious choice to fill the position.
Kilmeade asked McCarthy about the prospect of Trump leading as Speaker of the House, highlighting talk that had been going around Mar-a-Lago.
“…if you guys do take the House and finish the job, uh, that you almost shocked the world by doing a few months ago and take the house, — you’re only five seats down that maybe he runs for a seat or just appointed as Speaker – would you be for President Trump becoming Speaker?”
McCarthy replied, laughing somewhat nervously about the question, that he had spoken to Trump who had voiced his desire to become Speaker. He said:
“You know, I’ve talked to President Trump many times. He tells me he wants to be Speaker and I think he should be President. But most importantly, if you’re worried about the filibuster, the best way to stop it is win the House. You won’t have to worry about the filibuster again, cause those bills won’t get over there.”
And if you work in time and again, what are the Democrats doing with this majority? Not only do they want to change the election law, they want to make Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. states. Why? They’re doing everything they can to change the structure and constitutionality of our State—of our country—so they can maintain control illegally. That’s something we never want to see happen.”
“All right. Leader McCarthy could be Speaker McCarthy, it might be Speaker Trump. We’ll have to find out. Nice to see you, Kevin. Have a great weekend,” replied Kilmeade, prompting more nervous laughter from McCarthy.