Trump's early primary lead being driven by Black and Hispanic conservatives

Trump's early primary lead being driven by Black and Hispanic conservatives
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

This was not the headline I expected to be writing on a Sunday in March, yet here we are. Polling in the 2024 GOP primary is still extremely premature, but a couple of trends have been emerging. At least until we get some other major names into the mix (assuming there are any on the way) the early competition is between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But Trump has been holding a clear lead over the course of several consecutive polls now. At CNN this weekend, Harry Enten breaks down the two latest and comes up with a surprising (at least to me) nugget of data. Trump’s current lead is made up almost entirely of Republican voters of color. Without that edge, Trump and DeSantis would be effectively tied.

Former President Donald Trump holds an average double-digit advantage over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in national 2024 Republican primary surveys. That, in itself, isn’t notable given Trump, the frontrunner, has been ahead of DeSantis (by far his nearest competitor or potential competitor) since polling began about the race.

But what may surprise is how Trump is ahead. An average of CNN/SSRS and Quinnipiac University polls released this week reveals that Trump’s lead may, in large part, be because of his clear edge among potential Republican primary voters of color.

Trump was up an average of 55% to 26% over DeSantis among Republican (and Republican leaning independent) voters of color in an average of the two polls.

Before proceeding, it’s worth pointing out a couple of things. First of all, this polling isn’t just extremely early, but it’s incomplete. DeSantis hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet, so some respondents may be less inclined to voice support for someone who technically isn’t even in the race. That could apply to others such as Mike Pence and Chris Christie. Any of them might see a bump if and when they declare.

But with that said, Trump’s current lead over DeSantis (40/36 in SSRS and 46/32 in Quinnipiac) very much looks as if it depends almost entirely on Black and Hispanic voter support. Among white Republicans, Trump’s average lead was just 38/37. Enten clearly struggled to contain his shock upon seeing the numbers, describing Trump’s lead among minority voters as coming despite “the fact that many Americans view Trump as racist.” I would suggest that Harry expand that sentence a bit next time to read, ‘the fact that many Americans who watch CNN and MSNBC view Trump as racist.’

Another potentially telling factor in these polls is found in the economic data. Trump trails DeSantis by 13 points among potential primary voters from households earning more than $50K per year. But the former President holds a 22-point lead among those households earning less than $50K. And nearly a majority of Black Republican voters (45%) fall into the “less than $50K” category.

We have been assured repeatedly by analysts that the GOP is moving more and more back toward being the party of the working class while Democrats continue to pander to the private jet crowd. The winner of the 2024 GOP primary will very likely be the candidate whose message is reaching the lower-income, lower-to-middle-class workers of any racial demographic. And at least thus far, it sounds as if those voters are liking what Donald Trump is selling.

But yet again, this is all incredibly premature in terms of trying to project an eventual nominee. But this is the sort of data that all of the campaigns will be looking at moving forward to see how well their message is resonating, allowing the smart ones to tailor their strategies as they go. And at least for the moment, Trump’s team must be liking what they are seeing.

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