WOLFEBORO, N.H. – Donald Trump did not join his nine 2024 Republican presidential race rivals in marching in July 4th parades in Iowa and New Hampshire.
However, the former president did not have to.
Trump is leagues ahead of his challengers for the nomination in the latest national polling, and his lead has grown in recent months as indictments in New York City and a Florida federal court have only fueled his support among Republican voters.
Trump, who is making his third straight White House run, stands at 56% support in the latest Fox News national poll of likely GOP primary voters, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 22% and everybody else in the large field of candidates in the singe digits. Trump’s lead has steadily expanded since the late winter.
The former president also enjoys large double-digital leads in the most recent surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire — the two states that lead off the Republican presidential nominating calendar.
“We’ve always firmly believed that President Trump would be the clear and away front-runner in this race and once he started to campaign and travel around the country and engage with voters that it would be clear that he’s in the driver’s seat,” said a top Trump campaign adviser, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
Going forward, the adviser said “it’s full speed ahead from the Trump side of things. We’re going to continue to be very active on the campaign trail, continue to roll out new policies, continue to contrast with Joe Biden’s failed leadership.”
Pointing to the constant barrage of attacks on DeSantis over the past couple of months, the adviser said the Trump campaign would “continue to put a fair amount of attention on the number two candidate in the race on the Republican side… we’re not letting up at all.”
Trump’s dominance over his rivals is illustrated in more than just polls. He is also expected to unveil what sources in his orbit describe as “robust” campaign cash haul when the former president’s team releases their second quarter of 2023 fundraising figures as early as later this week.
The second quarter of fundraising witnessed Trump becoming the first sitting or former president in U.S. history to be charged with a crime. In early April in New York City Trump pleaded not guilty to charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The former president was indicted for allegedly giving hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of that year’s presidential election over her claims she had sexual encounters years earlier with Trump. The former president denies sleeping with Daniels and denies falsifying business records to keep the payment concealed.
Trump was indicted and arraigned early last month for his alleged improper retention of classified records. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Miami to criminal charges that he illegally retained national security records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, following the end of his term as president and that he obstructed federal efforts to recover the documents. In total, Trump faces 37 felony charges.
So far, the indictments have only boosted Trump with GOP primary voters.
However, his legal troubles are only mounting. He could face more federal charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021 deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporters who unsuccessfully tried to derail congressional certification of President Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory.
The former president also faces a potential indictment over his alleged attempts to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 election results, as he continues to repeat unproven claims the election was stolen.
Longtime New Hampshire based Republican strategist Jim Merrill noted that “Donald Trump is king of the hill right now.”
Merrill, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns who’s neutral in the 2024 nomination race, noted that Trump is “in an enviable poll position right now. But there are a lot of candidates who are working really hard up here and what I’m seeing is that there’s an awful lot of interest in the candidates as they’re going around the state, holding town halls, doing parades. You’re seeing big crowds and interested voters.”
“Trump is king of the hill, but he doesn’t have this thing sewn up,” Merrill argued. “New Hampshire is wide open and there’s a lot of interest in what the other candidates are selling right now.”
While DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and several other 2024 Republican candidates are making an impression with voters in the early nominating states, their campaigning to date has yet to alter Trump’s poll position.
However, the GOP presidential primary debates, starting with the Fox News-hosted showdown in Milwaukee on Aug. 23 will offer Trump’s rivals a chance to change the equation.
“We’ve seen in recent cycles that people try to use those debates to slingshot their candidacies forward,” Merrill said. “I think one of the challenges of course is when everybody is trying to do it, it’s more difficult to stand out.”
Merrill said “there’s no question that debates are inflection points for campaigns. They can help make them and they can help break them.”
Trump’s campaign does not seem too concerned.
The Trump adviser touted that “we have even bigger and better things that we’re planning for each and every month down the stretch here.”
Additionally, the adviser added that “there’s a definite value for having done this before and for this being the third time President Trump has run for president, he knows what to expect. He knows the importance of doing what he’s doing.”