Trump Extends Lead in Iowa as DeSantis and Haley Scrap for 2nd
Trump Extends Lead in Iowa as DeSantis and Haley Scrap for 2nd

By Samantha Flom

A new survey shows that former President Donald Trump is gaining ground with Republican voters in Iowa, adding to his already commanding lead over the rest of the GOP presidential primary field in the state.

The NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll found that President Trump holds a 27-point advantage over his Republican rivals as the first-choice candidate of 43 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tied for second place at 16 percent each. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott came in third at 7 percent.

The result marks a 1 percent gain in support for the 45th president and an expansion of his lead since August when he held a 23-point edge over Mr. DeSantis.

The poll also indicates a swell in support for Ms. Haley, who polled at just 6 percent that same month, and a 3-point drop for Mr. DeSantis.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 22 through Oct. 26, at the peak of a turbulent month for President Trump, as he fights several legal battles, and for the nation amid the eruption of war in the Middle East.

Over the weekend, GOP candidates converged upon the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas to voice their support for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

One of those candidates was former Vice President Mike Pence, who asserted that “America stands with Israel” before announcing that he was dropping out of the race.

“After traveling across the country over the past six months … it’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” he said on Oct. 28.

“So, after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president, effective today.

“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 added.

In the latest NBC News poll, Mr. Pence received just 2 percent of the “first choice” vote, down from 6 percent in August.

After he suspended his campaign, his support was reallocated to those caucus-goers’ second-choice candidates, which the outlet said “barely changed the overall results.”

The former vice president’s withdrawal followed similar announcements from Michigan businessman Perry Johnson on Oct. 20 and former EpochTV and talk radio host Larry Elder on Oct. 26.

Both Republicans have since endorsed President Trump.

“President Trump’s leadership has been instrumental in advancing conservative, America First principles and policies that have benefited our great nation,” Mr. Elder said in issuing his endorsement.

“We must unite behind Donald Trump to beat Joe Biden and fight back against Biden’s unprecedented election interference and the Left’s destruction of America.”

Yet despite those endorsements and President Trump’s substantial lead, the poll also shows that a significant percentage of Iowa Republicans are still considering other options.

In Mr. DeSantis’s case, 27 percent of respondents said he was their second-choice candidate, and an additional 25 percent said they were “actively considering” him. Meanwhile, Ms. Haley, the second choice of 17 percent, was being considered by 22 percent.

And while 41 percent of likely caucus-goers said their minds were made up on their preferred candidates, 54 percent said they could still be persuaded to support another.

Still, support for President Trump is more solidified than that of his competitors. Where 63 percent of his backers said their minds were completely made up, only about one-third of Mr. DeSantis’s supporters and a quarter of Ms. Haley’s said the same.

Moreover, 65 percent of respondents dismissed the possibility of the former president’s ongoing legal challenges hindering his ability to beat President Biden in the general election.

The survey was conducted among 404 likely Republican caucus-goers and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Allen Zhong contributed to this report.

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