Prior to Trump’s Indictment, Key Republican Constituencies Gave Him Favorable Ratings

New PRRI data from early March shows that many key Republican groups view 2024 presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump favorably, and he holds a significant name-recognition lead over his likely 2024 primary competitors including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. While Trump has essentially universal name recognition, his net favorability ratings are somewhat lower than DeSantis among key Republican groups.

Despite Trump’s popularity among Republicans, Americans overall are much more likely to express favorable views of President Joe Biden (46%) than of Trump (33%), DeSantis (31%), or Haley (23%). Americans are less familiar with DeSantis (22% have not heard of him) and Haley (41% have not heard of her) compared to Trump (2% have not heard of him) or Biden (1% have not heard of him).

Assessments of the Presidential Frontrunners

 Joe Biden

Slightly under half of Americans (46%) view Biden favorably, compared to a slim majority (51%) who view him unfavorably, for a net -5 favorability. Americans are slightly more likely to rate him favorably now than they were in September 2022, when 40% held favorable views of him.

Americans were most likely to view Biden favorably beginning around the time he took office in January 2021 (55%) and remaining relatively steady in both August (56%) and September 2021 (52%), before declining to 40% in September 2022 (40%).

Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats view Biden favorably (85%); however, these attitudes are not particularly intense, with just over one-third of Democrats expressing a very favorable view of Biden (36%). Around 4 in 10 independents (42%) and fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans (7%) view Biden favorably.

Donald Trump

Since the announcement of his presidential campaign in 2015, Americans’ assessments of Trump have remained remarkably stable. Trump’s favorable ratings in PRRI polling have remained underwater on all but one occasion when his favorability reached its high point of 49% in September 2020. Despite the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection in 2021, Trump’s favorability ratings have remained stable since leaving office with roughly one-third of Americans expressing favorable views of him. Currently, 33% of Americans view him favorably, while 64% view him unfavorably, for a net -31 favorability.

Despite these poor assessments among the general population, Republicans still hold broadly favorable views of him: 72% of Republicans view him favorably, including a 39% plurality who had a very favorable view of Trump ahead of his indictment. Around one in four Republicans (26%) view Trump unfavorably for a net +46 favorability among Republicans.

Ron DeSantis

DeSantis appears to be the favorite early alternative to Trump for the Republican nomination for president. Currently, 30% of Americans say they are favorable toward DeSantis, while 46% have unfavorable views of him, giving him a net -16 favorability. Around 2 in 10  Americans (22%) have not heard of him.

Americans are slightly less likely to say they have not heard of DeSantis compared to September 2022, when 30% had not heard of him. In September, 26% of Americans viewed him favorably, while 41% viewed him unfavorably.

Republicans generally view DeSantis favorably, with two-thirds (66%) saying they have a favorable view of him and 16% who say they have an unfavorable view, for a net +50 favorability, slightly higher than Trump’s net rating. Around 2 in 10 Republicans have not heard of him (18%). In September 2022, 59% of Republicans rated DeSantis favorably, while 21% had not heard of him.

Nikki Haley

Haley announced her presidential run in February 2023, and many Americans across the partisan spectrum are unfamiliar with her. Currently, around 1 in 4 Americans (23%) view her favorably, compared to 34% who view her unfavorably, for a net -11 favorability, while 41% have not heard of her.

Prior to Trump’s indictment, 43% of Republicans viewed her favorably, while 27% viewed her unfavorably, a net +16 favorability.

Attitudes Among Key Republican Constituencies

White Evangelical Protestants

White Christians, primarily white evangelical Protestants, have formed the backbone of Trump’s support throughout his presidency, 2020 campaign, and in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection. Prior to Trump’s indictment, 62% of white evangelical Protestants held favorable views of Trump, compared to 36 who held unfavorable views of him, for a net +26 favorability. The share of white evangelicals who view Trump favorably is similar to September 2022 (63%), but down slightly from the summer of 2018 when a consistent share of around 3 in 4 white evangelical Protestants viewed him favorably.

In comparison, slightly fewer white evangelical Protestants view DeSantis or Haley favorably (59% and 38%, respectively). However, DeSantis’ net favorability among white evangelicals is +36, placing him at a slightly higher net favorability than Trump. Haley’s net favorability among this group is +20. White evangelicals are more than twice as likely to say that they have not heard of Haley (42%) than they are to say the same of DeSantis (18%).

White evangelical Protestants have become somewhat more likely to say they have a favorable view of DeSantis compared to September 2022, when half (49%) viewed him favorably.

Fox News and Far-Right Media Viewers

Americans who most trust Fox News or far-right news outlets like One America News (OAN) or Newsmax hold overwhelmingly favorable views of all three Republican frontrunners; however, some of these viewers are still unfamiliar with DeSantis or Haley.

Seven in 10 Americans who most trust Fox News view Trump favorably (72%), compared to 69% who say the same of DeSantis, and 53% who say the same of Haley. Among Americans who most trust Fox News, Trump’s net favorability is +45, while DeSantis’ is somewhat higher at +57, and Haley’s is +39. Around one-third of Americans who most trust Fox News say they have not heard of Haley (32%), compared to about half as many who say the same of DeSantis (17%).

Those who most trust far-right outlets have even more favorable views of Trump (76%) and DeSantis (74%) than Fox News viewers, while they are just as likely to rate Haley favorably (53%). Trump’s net favorability of +63 among those who most trust far-right news outlets is roughly similar to DeSantis’ (+61), while Haley’s net rating of +33 is much lower.

Christian Nationalism Adherents

PRRI developed a set of five questions to determine adherence to Christian nationalist beliefs, and found that there is a strong overlap between Christian nationalist beliefs and alignment with conservative candidates and views. Christian nationalism adherents express strong support for making the United States an overtly Christion nation, believe that U.S. laws should be based on Christian values, and that being a Christian is an important part of being truly American.

When looking at the three candidates — all of whom identify as Christian — Christian nationalism adherents expressed highly positive ratings of Trump prior to his indictment (68% favorable), and a majority rate DeSantis favorably (52%). Haley is more of an unknown factor among Christian nationalism adherents (44% have not heard of her), while 35% rate her favorably. Trump’s net favorability among Christian nationalism adherents is +39, while DeSantis’ is +31 and Haley’s is lower at +17.

Republican Gender Divides

Republican men and women express similar ratings of Trump: 75% of Republican men have favorable views of him, along with 71% of Republican women. Trump’s net favorability among Republican men is +50, and among Republican women is +43.

Republican men are more familiar with DeSantis than Republican women: 74% of GOP men rate him favorably, compared to 58% of GOP women. An identical 16% of both Republican men and women rate DeSantis unfavorably, giving him a net +58 favorability rating among Republican men, and +42 among Republican women.

There is minimal evidence that Republican women have a particular affinity for Nikki Haley at this point in the race. Around one-third of Republican women have a favorable view of Haley (33%), compared to 16% who view her unfavorably, for a net +17 favorable rating for her. In comparison, Republican men have a higher net favorability rating for Haley (+34; 52% favorable, 18% unfavorable).