Dec 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump surges in Iowa, strengthening historic lead, new poll shows

Donald Trump

Former President Trump arrives at the New York Young Republican Club's 111th annual gala on Dec. 9, 2023. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

With 35 days until the Iowa caucuses, former President Trump has expanded his lead to 51% first-choice support among likely caucusgoers, according to a poll out Monday morning.

Why it matters: Trump's lead is the biggest recorded this close to a competitive Republican caucus in the poll's history, per NBC News, which conducted the survey with the Des Moines Register and Mediacom.

Chart: NBC News

Driving the news: The poll — which surveyed more than 500 likely GOP caucusgoers earlier this month — showed Trump surging by eight percentage points, compared to October.

Between the lines: Trump's lead is fueled by majorities of evangelical and first-time likely caucusgoers, NBC reports, "as well as by nearly three-quarters of Republicans who believe Trump can defeat President Joe Biden next year despite the legal challenges the former president faces."

By the numbers: The poll also showed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' support rising by three percentage points, bringing him to 19% — a distant second behind Trump.

Reality check: "The field may have shrunk, but it may have made Donald Trump even stronger than he was," J. Ann Selzer, the pollster who has conducted the Iowa poll for the past three decades, told the Des Moines Register.

  • But she also reminded NBC how unpredictable the Iowa caucuses can be — including in 2012, when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum notched a narrow upset win.

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