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Trump wins CPAC Dallas straw poll, DeSantis comes in second

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US President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, February 29, 2020. | SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump continues to be the GOP’s presidential frontrunner for 2024 after winning a straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference hosted by the American Conservative Union in Dallas, Texas, over the weekend. 

Trump held the lead with 70% of CPAC attendees saying they’d vote for him if the Republican Primary were held today and he was running. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida was the runner-up in the poll, lagging behind the former president with just 21% of the vote among attendees at CPAC in Dallas. However, the poll also asked attendees who they’d vote for if Trump wasn’t in the race and DeSantis led the pack with 68% of the vote. 

The 19 other contenders, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Vice President Mike Pence each received 1% or less of the vote. 

With Trump hypothetically out of the race, the other contenders received more votes in the straw poll. Pompeo received 5%, Donald Trump Jr. and Cruz both garnered 4%, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem received 3%, and all other candidates had less than 2%. 

The conference, which is usually held annually near Washington, D.C., is considered the “largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world.” This year the event was also held in Orlando, Florida. 

Trump performed better in the CPAC Dallas straw poll than CPAC Orlando back in February where he won less of a majority. 

At CPAC Orlando, 55% of respondents said they would support Trump as the Republican nominee, 21% said they would support DeSantis, and 4% expressed support for Noem. 

DeSantis is a former congressman and U.S. Navy JAG officer who has gained national attention for not mandating ongoing lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19, thus keeping Florida’s economy open. 

His Democratic opponent in the 2019 gubernatorial race, Andrew Gillum, who many had expected to win the election, later came out as bisexual following a drug and sex scandal in which he was found passed out in a Miami Beach hotel room with two other men and three bags of methamphetamines months after he lost. 

In a separate poll at the Western Conservative Summit last month, DeSantis received more votes than Trump. In that poll, 74% percent of attendants at the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s public policy think tank, “approved” of DeSantis as a 2024 presidential candidate, while 71% said they preferred Trump over dozens of the other top contenders, both Republican and Democrat.

The other top candidates, in order of most approval to least, included Sen. Ted Cruz (43%), Mike Pompeo (39%) and Sen. Tim Scott (36%).

Trump, who has flirted with the possibility of another presidential run, addressed a friendly crowd at CPAC Dallas that chanted “USA! USA!” as he took the stage on Sunday.

He began his speech shortly after the results of the 2024 presidential election straw poll were released. 

“With the help of everyone here today, we will defeat the radical left, the socialists, Marxists and the critical race theorists,” Trump said in his 90-minute speech. “We will secure our borders, we will stop Left-wing cancel culture, we will restore free speech and free elections and we will make America great again.”

His speech also hinted at a 2024 presidential run, addressed his recent lawsuits against Big Tech companies, 2020 election fraud, and attacked President Joe Biden and Republicans who have not been loyal to him.

“I love my Republicans, but we’re really kicking their a–, too,” Trump said, referring to party members who might run against him for president. But we love them. But we like it because they’re friends of ours, right? So it’s OK. I think we can say that affectionately.”

Though Trump has not announced whether he will run in 2024, he told Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity he has already made up his mind about whether he’s running or not. 

On Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo: “I do know my answer, but I can’t reveal it yet, because that has to do with campaign financing and everything else​.”

Trump has also assured Republicans that he will not start a new political party. 

Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: emily.wood@christianpost.com