A new poll by Tony Fabrizio found that former Vice President Mike Pence jumped to the head of the pack of 2024 presidential contenders if former President Donald Trump wasn’t also a candidate, according to the Washington Examiner.
With Trump out of the picture, Pence led with 19% GOP support in the poll of more than 1,200 likely voters. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was a close second to Pence with 17% support.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in third in the poll with 13%, even after he was the target of criticism for flying to Cancun in the middle of an ice storm that left millions in Texas and surrounding states without power for days — some for more than a week.
But when Trump was included as a candidate, Pence trailed his 51% support with only 9%, and the others got even less.
CPAC poll shows little support for Pence
These results were quite different from a straw poll taken at CPAC, where Trump got 55%, DeSantis got 21%, and Pence only got 1% of the vote.
If Trump were not a candidate, 43% of CPAC attendees said they would support DeSantis, with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Donald Trump Jr. also getting some support.
The discrepancy comes from CPAC’s concentration on the conservative wing of the party, whereas the Fabrizio poll also included more moderate Republican voters.
It remains to be seen how much Republican voters can unify around any candidate by 2024, with sharp divisions around continuing to support President Donald Trump evident.
After all, Republicans spent years nominating moderates like Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, only to lose to Democrats because they couldn’t energize the conservative base of the party enough.
Trump certainly energizes conservatives, but he narrowly lost to Joe Biden in his bid for election because of left-wing social media censorship and a small but powerful contingent of establishment Republicans who decided Biden was better than another four years of a firebrand whose goal was to shake up the establishment to its core.
Pence is definitely more on the establishment side than DeSantis, Cruz, or Noem, but it’s hard to imagine anyone but Trump being able to rally enough Republicans to have a chance.
Then again, a lot can happen in three and-a-half years.