- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 28, 2021

Former President Trump is the early leader among conservatives for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, according to The Washington Times/CPAC poll released Sunday — but even if he is not at the top of the ticket, conservatives said, the Trump agenda must be the party’s driving force.

Asked flatly whether they want Mr. Trump to run again, 68% said “Yes,” making him the clear leader.

When stacked up against a list of 20 other names in the straw poll, Mr. Trump was the pick of 55%, distantly followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who likely had a favorite son advantage. This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference was held in Orlando, Florida.

No other candidate topped 5% in the poll.

Even more important than Mr. Trump himself was the agenda he blazed. A stunning 95% of those polled said the Republican Party must continue to pursue the issues of the former president.

Mr. Trump also had a 97% approval rating.

“He’s literally the most popular figure we have ever had in the conservative movement,” said Jim McLaughlin, the pollster who conducted the survey.

Mr. McLaughlin said those numbers should be a caution to Republicans in Washington who have said the party needs to move beyond Mr. Trump. Grassroots conservatives, he said, “believe that the Trump agenda is the future of the Republican Party.”

Adding to that sense, CPAC attendees were decidedly less enamored with Republicans in Congress. More than 93% said Republican lawmakers aren’t doing enough to fight President Biden’s agenda.

The poll included 1,007 attendees at CPAC, which ran from Thursday through Sunday. The location was changed to avoid coronavirus restrictions in the Washington area that would have limited the conference.

Most of the questions focused on what conservatives want to see, but the survey did take the temperature of the gathering on Mr. Biden and fellow Democrats.

The new president had a 1% approval rating.

But he is not the most feared Democrat. That would be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who topped the list of names as the “biggest threat” to America, with 41%.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who in her second term has already become a major political force, was second at 22%. Mr. Biden trailed in third at 19%.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Bernard Sanders rounded out the top five, though neither cracked double digits.

Conservatives also don’t believe Mr. Biden earned the top job without the help of voter fraud. A staggering 93% said it helped him prevail in the Nov. 3 election.

Election integrity also led the list of issues conservatives care about, with 62% naming it as a top-three issue. Constitutional rights was second, and immigration was third.

“The Make America Great Again movement is the conservative movement. That is the base of our party,” Mr. McLaughlin said from the CPAC stage after announcing the straw poll results.

This year’s survey posed two 2024 straw poll questions: one with Mr. Trump’s name included and one without.

When the former president was on the list, he got 55% of the vote, Mr. DeSantis got 21%, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was third with 4%, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley garnered 3%. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz followed at 2%, and no other candidate cracked the 2% mark.

Without Mr. Trump, Mr. DeSantis led with 43%, Ms. Noem had 11%, and Donald Trump Jr., whose name was not on the poll with his father, was third at 8%. Ivanka Trump was ninth.

Other notable names were Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who was eighth in one poll and sixth in another, and former Vice President Mike Pence, who was 10th in the poll with Mr. Trump’s name and didn’t make the top 10 in the poll without.

⦁ S.A. Miller reported from Orlando.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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