RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two new polls show Virginia Republicans prefer former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the party’s presidential nominee in 2024, with Gov. Glenn Youngkin a distant third.
Gov. Youngkin’s approval rating ticked up in a Roanoke College poll released Thursday, but the survey found he is far behind Trump and DeSantis in a potential 2024 showdown among Republicans in the commonwealth.
Thirty-nine percent of Republicans polled said they would prefer having Trump and 28% said they would have DeSantis as the party’s nominee. Only 6% said Youngkin but 25% had him as their second choice, compared to 21% for DeSantis and 18% for Trump.
“While this is likely a Virginia effect, it suggests that, at least among Virginia Republicans, Youngkin is held in high regard among the other popular candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination,” Bryan Parsons, a senior political analyst at IPOR and the Roanoke College Poll, said in a statement accompanying the poll.
A Virginia GOP primary poll conducted by Differentiators Data, a Republican-leaning firm based in North Carolina, shows strong favorability numbers (87%) for Youngkin but has him polling at 6.4% in a crowded primary.
The Differentiators Data poll of 500 likely Republican primary voters shows DeSantis polling at 37% and Trump at 34.1% in a potential GOP primary with Youngkin and others, including candidate Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence. When asked about their next choice, 25.6% said DeSantis, 12.7% said Trump and 12.6% had Youngkin as their second pick.
Of the three, only Trump has announced a run for president. But speculation over the Republican governors’ presidential ambitions has grown ahead of 2024. Gov. Youngkin made another fundraising trip to New York this week and has continued to appear on national news networks, with more to come.
In a hypothetical match-up between Youngkin and Biden, 54% of those polled by Roanoke College said they would vote for the governor. But 54% of Virginians think Youngkin should not jump into the GOP primary and 42% of Republicans in the commonwealth said he should, the poll found.
When it came to favorability, Youngkin outperformed President Joe Biden — whose approval rating dipped to 38% and favorability rating dropped to 40% — and Trump in the Roanoke College survey. Youngkin’s favorability rating in the Virginia poll was 52% and Trump’s was 33%.
“These latest numbers confirm the outstanding work Governor Youngkin is doing in Virginia,” Youngkin’s political advisor Kristin Davison said in a statement. “He has the highest favorability rating out of any individual tested because he has brought Virginians together around his agenda to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
The Differentiators Data poll shows DeSantis ahead of both Trump and Youngkin in hypothetical match-ups, including a nearly 40% gap between the two Republican governors. In a Trump-Youngkin match-up, 52% said they would back the former president and 41.9% said Youngkin.
“Virginia’s GOP primary voters love Glenn Youngkin – they just don’t want him to run for president,” Ray Martin, a partner at Differentiators Data, said in a statement. “Ron DeSantis is the man to beat in Virginia, and the fact that his lead grows significantly in a head-to-head matchup with former President Donald Trump tells us Trump has hit his ceiling of support in the Commonwealth.”
Approval of Youngkin’s job performance as governor sits at 57%, according to the Roanoke College poll, a five-point jump from November and the highest rating he has had in a Roanoke College survey since taking office.
But the partisan divide on Youngkin’s time as governor persists, with 35% of Democrats surveyed by IPOR saying they approve of the governor’s job performance compared to 87% of Republicans.
“The governor has a 57% approval rating with all voters and nearly 90% approval with Republicans because the governor got to work on Day One delivering on his pledge to lower the cost of living, make communities safe, empower parents, and support an education system worthy of Virginia’s children,” Davison’s statement continued.
There were 680 Virginia adults surveyed for IPOR at Roanoke College poll — 415 through random phone calls and 265 “drawn from a proprietary online panel” — from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.23 percentage points.
Differentiators Data polled 500 likely Republican primary voters — evenly split between landline, cell phones and text to web — from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24. According to the survey, it has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.