Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was chosen for a second year over former President Donald Trump to be the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nominee at an annual Conservative conference.
The Western Conservative Summit has been held in Colorado since 2010. The event is hosted by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, located in Lakewood, just west of Denver. Summit organizers are conducting a poll at the event to gauge attendees’ preferences on who should be the next presidential candidate.
This year, DeSantis was the frontrunner, with support from 71.01% of respondents. Trump came in just behind in second place with 67.68% support. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was in third place (28.73%) and Ben Carson, who served as Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, came in fourth (24.15%).
Since voters were allowed to make more than one choice, through the approval voting method, the poll percentages added up to more than 100%. Returning officer Frank Attwood told Colorado Politics last year that the decision to use the approval voting method “minimizes spoilers and sabotage and gives underage candidates viability and visibility.”
Straw poll results from the 2022 summit were similar to 2021, although support for Trump and DeSantis fell slightly. Last year, DeSantis narrowly won the straw poll at the Conservative conference, beating Trump for the top spot. The Florida governor led the poll with 74% of voters saying they approved of him as a presidential candidate, just ahead of the former president’s 71% support.
The Centennial Institute states on its website that it aims to “impact our culture in favor of traditional family values, sanctity of life, compassion for the poor, biblical view of nature human rights, limited government, personal liberty, free markets, natural law, the intent of the Constitution, and Western civilization.” Additionally, the institute says its goal is “to be truth seekers and debunk ‘spent ideas’ and those who traffic in them.”
A mock Wisconsin poll of GOP activists in May also put DeSantis ahead of Trump. Of those 325 Republicans in the Midwestern state, the Florida governor garnered 38% support, compared to just 32% who backed Trump. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, came third, with 7%.
Recent national Republican polls have generally shown Trump to be the clear frontrunner for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination if he chooses to run. DeSantis is often in second place.
A February poll by Rasmussen Reports found nearly half (47%) of likely GOP voters would support Trump for the party’s nomination in the upcoming presidential election. DeSantis came in second, although he trailed Trump with just 20%. Notably, prominent Trump critic, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, came in third with 7%.
However, a May survey by the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll found significantly lower enthusiasm for Trump. In that poll, just 30% of those polled said they would support Trump in a hypothetical GOP primary race in 2024. Meanwhile, DeSantis still trailed Trump by double digits at 8%. Former Vice President Mike Pence came in third with 7%.
Update 6/5/22, 8:48 AM ET: This article has been updated with information on a recent Wisconsin straw poll of Republicans.