Trump, who’s repeatedly flirted with making another presidential run in 2024 to try and return to the White House, captured 70% of ballots cast in the anonymous straw poll, according to results announced by CPAC on Sunday afternoon.
That’s a boost from the 55% support he won in the hypothetical 2024 Republican primary matchup straw poll at CPAC Orlando in late February.
“I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your incredible support,” Trump said as he gave the Dallas event’s keynote address minutes later.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came in a distant second, at 21%. No one else among the 19 potential 2024 Republican White House contenders topped 1%.
DeSantis, a first-term governor and Trump ally who soared in popularity among conservatives nationwide for his resistance to lockdowns and COVID restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, easily topped a second 2024 ballot question – without Trump on the hypothetical ballot.
DeSantis grabbed 68% support on that question, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 5%. Donald Trump Jr. and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were both at 4%, with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at 3%. No one else topped 2%.
The straw poll results, along with the former president’s headliner speech on Sunday, were the most anticipated moments at the three-day gathering of conservative activists and leaders from across the country.
Trump’s strong performance comes as no surprise. CPAC, long the largest and most influential gathering of conservatives, has become a Trump-fest since his 2016 presidential election victory. Eighty-eight percent of 1,525 CPAC attendees casting ballots said they strongly approved of the job Trump did in the White House, with another 10% somewhat approving.
CPAC attendees anonymously answered – via an online app – the 20-question survey designed by organizers. Among the topics on the secret ballot, which organizers say will give them a sense of the pulse of the conservative movement, are critical race theory, cancel culture and border security. But the 2024 straw poll questions, without a doubt, generated the most interest.
At the straw poll at CPAC in Orlando, DeSantis, who finished in second place with 21% support, was the only other Republican to reach double digits.
DeSantis topped the second straw poll question in Orlando, which didn’t include Trump, finishing with 43% support in the hypothetical nomination showdown, with Noem second at 11%.