New conservative overtakes Trump for top spot in 2024: Straw poll

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cemented his status as the future of the GOP, thanks to his deft handling of the pandemic and his take-no-prisoners approach to combatting Big Tech censorship and prospective voter fraud.

On Saturday, the Harvard Law School graduate and Navy veteran topped former President Donald Trump in a straw poll of 371 people who were asked whom they preferred in the 2024 Republican presidential race.

The poll surveyed attendees of the Western Conservative Summit hosted by the Centennial Institute, a think tank at Colorado Christian University.

The top five candidates were:

  • DeSantis: 74 percent.
  • Trump: 71 percent.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: 43 percent.
  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: 39 percent.
  • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina: 36 percent.

When asked to rate the most important policy issues, respondents said border security and election integrity were their top priorities.

According to the poll, the five most important issues were:

DeSantis’s meteoric ascent is not surprising, since he won widespread praise from conservatives for his skillful handling of the pandemic, which included prioritizing the elderly and lifting unscientific restrictions such as extended shutdowns, mask mandates and school closures.

In May, the governor also made a bold, pre-emptive move to block Big Tech censorship of conservatives by making it a crime for social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook to deplatform state political candidates or journalistic enterprises such as Project Veritas.

Any social media oligarchy that flippantly bans a conservative politician or media outlet will be fined a punishing $250,000 a day.

Last month, DeSantis signed a new election integrity law that strengthens voter identification, bans the mass mailing of ballots and ballot harvesting and prohibits private money from administering elections in Florida.

And two weeks ago, he banned the indoctrination of divisive critical race theory in schools, saying he will not allow left-wing propagandists to “teach kids to hate each other” and “to hate our country.”

While many on the right remain staunch Trump supporters, some are concerned that his bombastic style and contentious presidency could alienate voters who are on the fence in 2024.

The brash billionaire’s blunt rhetoric was extremely effective at energizing his base, but it also had the unintended effect of mobilizing his opponents — making everything he tried to accomplish an uphill battle.

While Trump loudly threatened to punish social media giants that suppressed or censored conservatives, his bombast only served to make them dig in their heels and toss countless conservatives off Twitter and Facebook — including himself, while he was still the sitting U.S. president.

In contrast, DeSantis made no strident threats. Instead, he quietly pushed for and signed a law preventing social media giants from cavalierly banning conservatives without explanation or warning.

Similarly, Trump boisterously complained in the months preceding the 2020 election that voter fraud could occur in key battleground states. But he took no concrete actions to prevent such an occurrence.