Jun 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump pollster tells donors DeSantis electability is a "myth"

DeSantis

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio is telling GOP donors that it's a "myth" that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is more electable than the former president, according to a private memo obtained by Axios Thursday.

Why it matters: DeSantis and his super PAC have used surveys showing that he polls better than Trump against President Biden as a key argument in his race to become the Republican nominee.

  • Trump's team has been pushing back on that argument, with Fabrizio's polling the latest effort to convince donors and other prominent Republicans that Trump can win a general election.
  • Fabrizio was Trump's chief pollster in 2016 and 2020 and is now polling through the Trump-aligned super PAC MAGA Inc.

Zoom in: Fabrizio's memo suggests that DeSantis is viewed as less electable than Trump in swing states after voters learn his positions on certain issues, and that voters have "very limited knowledge" of the Florida governor right now.

  • "When Swing State voters learn about certain DeSantis positions, his support craters," Fabrizio wrote of his survey of 600 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from May 22- 25.
  • "And, contrary to conventional wisdom, the 6 Week Abortion Ban and his fight with Disney, while still electorally fatal, aren’t the worst of the bunch," he continued, referencing two issues that critics have argued make him vulnerable among independents.

The memo does not dissect abortion or Disney, but rather focuses on how voters respond after hearing Democratic attacks on key positions DeSantis holds or has supported in the past.

  • That includes past support for altering Medicare and Social Security and a national sales tax, along with a bill DeSantis signed that gave school districts and parents more power to limit certain books that has caused a firestorm.
  • "The most damaging position for DeSantis among Swing State voters is his record on cuts to Social Security and Medicare where DeSantis goes from leading Biden by 4 points to trailing Biden by 10 points at 50%/40% – a net swing against DeSantis of 14 points," Fabrizio wrote.

The bottom line: Fabrizio argues that DeSantis is the riskier choice because of the possibility that his poll numbers could change significantly in the face of Democratic attacks.

  • "Trump and Biden don’t face the same risk given voters’ greater familiarity with them and their records," he wrote.
  • Fabrizio declined to comment.

Read the full memo.

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