WASHINGTON — Despite former President Donald Trump’s multitude of criminal charges, he remains the dominant frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary field, even widening his lead among GOP voters.
A new poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal shows that, among Republican voters, 59% said Trump would be their first choice if the GOP primary was held today.
His criminal indictments also appear to have strengthened the former president’s commanding frontrunner status among Republican White House hopefuls.
In April, Trump commanded 48% support among GOP primary voters, according to an earlier poll by the Wall Street Journal, but following his indictments, his lead has only grown as Republican voters express doubts over his legal challenges.
Trump has been indicted four times this year on allegations of falsifying business records to make hush payments, mishandling classified documents after he left the White House and seeking to steal the 2020 presidential election. He faces federal charges and state charges in Georgia over the 2020 election.
But over 60% of poll respondents in the recent Wall Street Journal said they saw Trump’s indictments as political. Seventy-eight percent of respondents believed Trump’s conduct and attempts to overturn the 2020 election were legal, compared to just 16% who thought Trump’s actions were illegal.
In a hypothetical head-to-head general election rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, the two candidates tied at 46% with 8% of respondents undecided. The results suggest that, despite Trump’s myriad legal woes, a Trump-Biden matchup could still be competitive.
At second in the Republican field, though far behind, is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is considered to be Trump’s strongest rival. DeSantis is the top choice for 13% of GOP primary voters in the new Wall Street Journal poll – 46 percentage points behind the former president.
Since announcing his presidential campaign, DeSantis has seen his support fall among GOP voters. DeSantis’ campaign has attempted to reboot his presidential bid through staffing reshuffles and messaging tweaks, but with what appears to be little effect so far.
The rest of the crowded Republican presidential field failed to hit double digits in the poll. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was behind DeSantis, being 8% of GOP primary voters’ first choice. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were at 5% and 3% support respectively.
The poll conducted on the GOP primary race had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, while the poll on other matters such as a Trump-Biden rematch had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump widens lead in 2024 GOP field after indictments: WSJ poll