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Trump Stays Dominant in GOP Race


Republican voters see Trump as a political ‘outsider’

West Long Branch, NJ – Former President Donald Trump’s support in the race for the Republican presidential nomination remains rock steady even as his legal troubles mount. The latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll finds most GOP voters continue to feel Trump would be their party’s strongest nominee in 2024 with very few seeing his legal woes as being of any real concern. These results are unaffected by last month’s indictments. Moreover, many Republicans want the next president to be someone outside the political establishment, and Trump is seen as the epitome of a political outsider.

When asked who they prefer as the Republican nominee for president in 2024 without any prompting of current candidates, 48% of GOP-aligned and leaning voters name Trump, 15% name Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and 18% name another person. In a subsequent primary ballot question listing nine announced candidates, Trump’s support increases to 55% while DeSantis’s support barely moves (17%). The vote share for DeSantis in both the open-ended and close-ended ballot questions have dropped by 5 percentage points since July. The next highest vote-getter in the named ballot question is former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 7%, which is not significantly different from her 3% support level two months ago.

Trump’s support has remained stable as he faces mounting legal troubles. In July – after the former president had been charged with business-related crimes in New York and the mishandling of government documents in Florida – only 27% of Republican voters expressed at least some concern that these indictments would make him a weaker candidate against President Joe Biden in the general election. Now that he has also been charged with attempting to overturn the 2020 election in both federal and state cases, the number who are concerned about the impact of these indictments is virtually the same at 25% (11% very concerned and 14% somewhat concerned). In fact, nearly half (48%) of GOP voters are not at all concerned about any of these charges being a drag on Trump’s chances in 2024.

Chart titled 2024 GOP Nominee choice.
Refer to questions 22 and 24 for details.

The vast majority of Republican voters say Trump is either definitely (48%) or probably (24%) the strongest candidate the GOP can nominate to take on Biden in 2024. The total number who see Trump as the party’s strongest option has climbed steadily from 63% in May after the New York indictment, to 69% in July after the Florida indictment and to 72% in the current poll.

 “The unwavering support for Trump as criminal charges pile up looks like a classic case of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger in the eyes of most Republican voters,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

 Backing Trump seems to be synonymous with supporting the party’s MAGA movement. Among strong MAGA supporters – who make up about one-third of the Republican electorate – 74% name Trump off the top of their heads as their favored pick for the GOP nomination, with DeSantis coming in a distant second place (11%) and 9% not naming any preferred candidate. Among the 1 in 5 party voters who support MAGA somewhat, 42% name Trump as their preferred nominee and 26% choose DeSantis, with 18% not naming a candidate. Among Republicans who do not support the MAGA movement, though, just 29% back Trump and 12% choose DeSantis. Another 30% of non-MAGA voters name another candidate, although no single candidate gets more than 10% (Haley), while 30% do not name any candidate as their preferred nominee. When non-MAGA Republicans are presented with the field of nine named candidates, support for Trump increases by 8 points and for DeSantis by 7 points when compared to the poll’s open-ended question, while backing for the rest of the field goes up by only a combined 5 points.

Pie chart titled: Importance of next president being a political outsider. Refer to question 25 for details.

“There is no lack of certainty among MAGA stalwarts. Trump is their guy. They don’t even need to consider any other options in the field. On the flip side of that coin, non-MAGA Republicans seem much less inspired by the options available to them,” said Murray.

 Nearly half of the GOP electorate says it is either extremely (26%) or very (21%) important for the next president to be someone from outside the political establishment. Just 22% say this is not important to them. This is a particularly high priority among strong MAGA supporters (47% extremely and 24% very important). Most Republican voters – whether a MAGA supporter or not – see Trump as more of a political outsider (69%) than insider (26%). This paints the former president in a similar image as business entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who has never held office (63% outsider). By comparison, most voters see both DeSantis (57%) and Haley (56%) as being more inside the political establishment.

“A former president is seen as the ultimate political outsider. Let that sink in,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll assessed GOP voters’ opinion of nine declared candidates for the party’s nomination in 2024. Republicans have an overwhelmingly positive view of Trump (79% favorable and 17% unfavorable), which has been fairly stable since Monmouth began tracking candidate ratings at the beginning of the year. DeSantis also gets a largely positive rating (64% favorable and 20% unfavorable). This is comparable to his rating in July, but he started the year at a much higher 80% favorability level in February.

Ramaswamy has seen both his favorable (42%) and unfavorable (17%) numbers go up since the first candidate debate as more voters have gotten to know him, but his overall net positive score is basically unchanged from July. At the same time, views of Haley (47% favorable and 21% unfavorable) and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (46% favorable and 10% unfavorable) have held fairly steady, with little or no appreciable increase in voter familiarity for either candidate.

On the negative side of the ledger, Republican views of both former Vice President Mike Pence (24% favorable and 55% unfavorable) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (10% favorable and 66% unfavorable) have grown even worse since the first debate. Rounding out the field are North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (16% favorable and 14% unfavorable) and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (13% favorable and 29% unfavorable), who are rated by less than half of the GOP electorate.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone and online from September 19 to 24, 2023 with 514 Republican and Republican leaning voters in the United States. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percentage points for the full sample. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.


(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-21 from national poll of all adults held for future release.]

22.Looking ahead, who would you like to see as the Republican nominee for President in 2024? [OPEN-END QUESTION. LIST WAS NOT READ]

Donald Trump48%46%43%41%33%26%
Ron DeSantis15%20%19%27%33%39%
Mike Pence1%1%3%1%2%2%
Nikki Haley6%2%1%3%1%1%
Vivek Ramaswamy4%3%1%0%0%0%
Tim Scott3%3%3%1%<1%<1%
Asa Hutchinson<1%0%0%0%0%0%
Chris Christie1%1%<1%0%0%0%
Doug Burgum<1%<1%0%0%0%0%
(VOL) Don’t know20%19%23%23%24%25%

23.I’m going to read you the names of candidates running for president in the Republican Party.  Please tell me if your general impression of each is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. If you have not heard of the person, just let me know. First, [READ NAME]. [NAMES WERE ROTATED]


heard of

Former President Donald Trump79%17%4%0%(514)
— July 202377%18%5%0%(681)
— May 202377%17%6%0%(655)
— March 202371%21%8%0%(521)
— Feb. 202374%18%8%0%(566)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis64%20%14%2%(514)
— July 202365%18%13%4%(681)
— May 202373%12%11%3%(655)
— March 202376%8%11%5%(521)
— Feb. 202380%6%11%3%(566)
Former Vice President Mike Pence24%55%20%1%(514)
— July 202335%45%19%0%(681)
— May 202346%35%18%0%(655)
— March 202342%37%21%0%(521)
— Feb. 202355%28%17%0%(566)
Former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley47%21%20%12%(514)
— July 202342%20%25%13%(681)
— May 202347%16%23%14%(655)
— March 202345%16%23%16%(521)
— Feb. 202347%11%22%19%(566)
Business entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy42%17%22%19%(514)
— July 202332%9%23%37%(681)
— May 202322%6%26%46%(655)
— March 202317%6%28%49%(521)
— Feb. 2023n/an/an/an/an/a
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott46%10%27%17%(514)
— July 202349%7%26%18%(681)
— May 202344%8%28%20%(655)
— March 202343%6%31%20%(521)
— Feb. 2023n/an/an/an/an/a
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson13%29%35%23%(514)
— July 202315%21%33%31%(681)
— May 202317%14%35%35%(655)
— March 202318%9%45%29%(521)
— Feb. 2023n/an/an/an/an/a
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie10%66%19%5%(514)
— July 202318%55%20%7%(681)
— May 202321%47%24%8%(655)
— March 202324%42%28%6%(521)
— Feb. 2023n/an/an/an/an/a
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum16%14%37%34%(514)
— July 202311%9%31%49%(681)
— May 2023n/an/an/an/an/a
— March 2023n/an/an/an/an/a
— Feb. 2023n/an/an/an/an/a

24.Of the candidates I just named, which one do you most support for the Republican nomination? [LIST WAS READ ONLY IF NEEDED]

Donald Trump55%54%
Ron DeSantis17%22%
Mike Pence3%3%
 Nikki Haley7%3%
Vivek Ramaswamy4%5%
Tim Scott5%3%
Asa Hutchinson1%<1%
Chris Christie2%3%
Doug Burgum1%1%
(VOL) None of these2%2%
(VOL) Don’t know4%4%

25.How important is it to you that the next president is someone from outside the political establishment – extremely important, very important, somewhat important, or not important?

Extremely important26%
Very important21%
Somewhat important30%
Not important22%
(VOL) Don’t know1%

26.Do you see [READ NAME] as being more inside or outside of the political establishment? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

(VOL) Don’t

Donald Trump26%69%4%(514)
Ron DeSantis57%33%10%(514)
Nikki Haley56%22%22%(514)
Vivek Ramaswamy15%63%22%(514)

27.Regardless of whether you currently support Donald Trump, which of the following statements comes closest to your view about which Republican has the best chance to win in 2024:  Donald Trump is definitely the strongest candidate to beat Joe Biden, Donald Trump is probably the strongest candidate to beat Joe Biden, another Republican would probably be a stronger candidate than Trump, or another Republican would definitely be a stronger candidate than Trump?

Trump definitely strongest48%45%45%
Trump probably strongest24%24%18%
Another Republican probably stronger17%18%19%
Another Republican definitely stronger8%13%13%
(VOL) Don’t know2%1%4%

28.How concerned are you that the criminal indictments against Donald Trump would make him a weaker candidate against Joe Biden in the general election – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

Very concerned11%11%
Somewhat concerned14%16%
Not too concerned26%25%
Not at all concerned48%47%
(VOL) Don’t know2%2%

29.Would you describe yourself as a born-again or evangelical Christian, or not?

(VOL) Don’t know3%2%3%1%

30.Would you describe yourself as a supporter of the MAGA movement, or not? [If YES: Do you support MAGA strongly or just somewhat?]

Supporter, strong36%31%38%
Supporter, somewhat22%21%28%
Not a supporter37%39%28%
(VOL) Don’t know5%9%6%


The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 19 to 24, 2023 with a probability-based national random sample of 514 registered voters who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. Interviews were conducted in English, and included 173 live landline telephone interviews, 174 live cell phone interviews, and 167 online surveys via a cell phone text invitation. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, with sample obtained from Dynata (RDD, n= 188), Aristotle (list, n= 252) and a panel of prior Monmouth poll participants (n= 74). Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on voter list and US Census information (ACS 2021 one-year survey). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points adjusted for sample design effects (1.47). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Demographics (weighted)

Party (self-reported): 48% Strong Republican, 16% Republican, not strong, 37% Independent, lean Rep

Sex: 53% Male, 47% Female

Age: 16% 18-34, 22% 35-49, 33% 50-64, 29% 65+

Race: 81% White, 11% Hispanic, 8% Black/Asian/Other

Education: 40% High school or less, 32% Some college, 17% 4 year degree, 11% graduate degree

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.