Donald Trump made his first public post-presidential appearance at CPAC on Sunday, and while he was certainly warmly received, the reception wasn’t that warm, apparently.
According to The Hill, while roughly 70 percent of respondents said they would like to see Trump run again in 2024, just 55 percent said they would actually vote for him in the Republican primaries if he did.
Twenty-one percent of respondents said they would vote for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (gross) and four percent said they would cast their primary ballots for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (also gross). The rest of the poll’s participants were dispersed among hypothetical candidates like Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, and Ted Cruz, none of whom earned more than three percent support.
So, Trump is still the poll’s obvious frontrunner. But considering the fact that CPAC attendees likely represent some of Trump’s most devoted supporters, the percentage is a bit low. And while Trump loyalists like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham are going to pains to preserve the former president’s standing in the party, some of its members appear to be ready to move on from Trump, even if they don’t disavow his politics.
It hasn’t been long since Trump left the White House, but it isn’t difficult to imagine national Republicans simply finding a new host body for its bigoted messaging by 2024. DeSantis, Noem, and Haley winning runner-up in the CPAC poll may hint at what’s to come, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s newfound popularity in the party offers a similarly terrifying omen. (CPAC attendees reportedly lined up to take photos with her over the weekend.)
A CPAC straw poll can only tell us so much, of course. But one thing is guaranteed: While the next presidential election may still be a long way’s away, there are plenty of other terrible people who could rise to the challenge in the meantime.