WASHINGTON - A recent poll from Quinnipiac recently found that former President Donald Trump has gained a ton of support from Republican voters ahead of the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
According to the poll, 46% of Republican voters support Trump while 32% say they support Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who many political experts eye as a likely candidate, according to to the Quinnipiac University national poll released on Wednesday.
"In a head-to-head Republican primary matchup between the two leading Republican candidates, Trump receives 51 percent support and DeSantis receives 40 percent support," the poll wrote.
The first Republican presidential primaries are nearly a year away and the candidate field is unsettled. But already, a shadow contest of another sort is underway with several Republicans openly jockeying to position themselves as potential running mates to Donald Trump, the early front-runner for the nomination.
"A lot of people are right now auditioning," Trump boasted to supporters in Florida last month.
The mere mention of a running mate this early in the process is a departure from the traditional timeline of presidential primaries, where candidates typically spend the opening months of a campaign introducing themselves to voters and sharing their visions for the country. But as a former president, Trump needs no introduction and is eager to project an air of inevitability around his campaign, particularly as attention builds around Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely seen as his toughest potential GOP rival.
Trump campaign officials insist that the vice presidential search is not something they have been actively discussing.
"We appreciate all support for President Trump, but the clear focus is on making sure that he wins the Republican nomination and is well-positioned to win the general election in 2024," said Jason Miller, a longtime Trump adviser.
That, however, hasn't stopped some could-be candidates from taking full advantage of opportunities to be in close proximity to Trump, at his club and at events. The dynamic was on full display earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where a trio of women who have been mentioned as possible contenders sat in the audience to cheer Trump's headline speech.
They were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Elise Stefanik of New York and Kari Lake, the news anchor-turned-failed-Arizona gubernatorial candidate who ended her remarks at a keynote event dinner by kissing a portrait of Trump that was placed on stage.
While Trump, according to people who have spoken to him, is in no rush to make a decision and understands that he has to let the nomination process play out, he has nonetheless talked through possible choices since well before he formally announced his candidacy last fall. In those conversations, he has indicated his interest in selecting a woman this time around.
But allies say Trump is looking, first and foremost, for someone who will be unabashedly loyal after feeling burned by former Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In 2016, running as a celebrity businessman with no experience in politics, Trump chose a person who was, in many ways, his total opposite, picking the Indiana governor and former congressman who could bolster his standing with conservatives and the religious right.
Trump, this time, is looking for someone more like himself, said Michael Caputo, a longtime friend and adviser who believes Stefanik would be Trump’s best choice.
"I think the president learned a lot from his experience with Pence," he said. "I think this time Trump’s going to be looking for someone cut from the same cloth he is, not from a different, complementary cloth."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.