Trump Gains in Iowa Poll, and DeSantis Holds Off Haley for a Distant Second

Multiple Republicans have ended their presidential campaigns over the past two months, narrowing the field against former President Donald J. Trump — but the only person who has gained much ground in the first voting state is Mr. Trump, according to a new poll.

Mr. Trump has the support of 51 percent of likely caucusgoers in a Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll released Monday, up from 43 percent in the last Iowa Poll from October.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is in a distant second place at 19 percent, up slightly from 16 percent in October. Nikki Haley, who had surged in the October poll, has made no further progress, according to the poll: Her support is unchanged at 16 percent.

The poll, conducted by J. Ann Selzer from Dec. 2 to 7, does not necessarily show that Mr. DeSantis is truly ahead of Ms. Haley; a three-percentage-point gap is not significant, given that the poll’s margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. But it indicates at a minimum that Ms. Haley is not leaping ahead of him as she tries to make the argument that she is the strongest contender against Mr. Trump and that Mr. DeSantis is fading.

It also indicates that Mr. Trump’s increasingly authoritarian rhetoric on the campaign trail — including calling his opponents “vermin” last month — and radical policy proposals have not turned Republican voters against him. (An interview in which he said he wouldn’t be a dictator “other than Day 1” came while the poll was underway.) Nor has he been hurt politically by the ongoing criminal and civil cases against him.

No other candidate cracks double digits in the poll. The entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy, who has campaigned fiercely in Iowa, is at 5 percent — essentially tied with former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has all but ignored the state and sits at 4 percent. Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has just 1 percent support, and Ryan Binkley, a little-known pastor, has 0 percent.

Just under half of likely caucusgoers — 46 percent — said they could change their minds before the caucuses on Jan. 15.

Mr. Trump, Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Ramaswamy all have events planned in Iowa this week: a CNN town hall in Des Moines for Mr. DeSantis on Tuesday, a similar town hall for Mr. Ramaswamy on Wednesday and, also on Wednesday, a rally in Coralville for Mr. Trump.

Mr. DeSantis has been laser-focused on Iowa, where he has received prominent endorsements recently — and given his weakness in New Hampshire, where he is polling fourth, his campaign hinges on a strong performance in the Iowa caucuses. A recently established group aligned with Mr. DeSantis, Fight Right Inc., began running an attack ad against Ms. Haley there on Monday.

Ms. Haley, by contrast, is focusing on New Hampshire this week, where — unlike in Iowa — she is clearly the highest-polling alternative to Mr. Trump, though still very far behind him. She has town-hall events planned Tuesday through Thursday in Manchester, Newport, Keene and Atkinson.

Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.

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