Donald Trump still holds a commanding lead in Iowa as Ron DeSantis “finds himself in a statistical tie for 2nd place” with Nikki Haley, according to a new polling memo from a top Trump Super PAC conducted by Tony Fabrizio and obtained by Semafor.
The latest internal polling from MAGA Inc. finds Trump holding steady with 45% support. DeSantis is at 15% and “locked in a dogfight” with Haley, who garners 13%. The race is all but frozen since their last poll in August — Haley’s moved up 3 points, DeSantis down 3 points.
The memo is being circulated to key donors, with Fabrizio making the argument that DeSantis’ heavy on-the-ground efforts in Iowa are doing little to move the needle while Haley remains more liked than loved. 73% of Trump’s supporters say they are locked into their choice, versus just 40% of DeSantis’ and 21% of Haley’s.
“The commitment of DeSantis’ and Haley’s vote pales by comparison and leaves DeSantis open to further erosion in support and Haley is at risk in having her rise arrested,” the memo argues. “The continued decline in DeSantis’ support underscores this vulnerability.”
The MAGA Inc. poll was conducted from Sept. 17-19 and surveyed 500 likely caucusgoers.
Internal polls should always be taken with a grain of salt. A Fox Business poll released on Wednesday found broadly similar results with Trump at 46% in Iowa, DeSantis still in second at 15%, and Haley trending upwards to 11%.
The latest MAGA Inc. survey was conducted as Trump picked a fight with social conservatives over abortion that — in theory — should resonate in evangelical-heavy Iowa as much as anywhere. On Sept. 17, Trump declared DeSantis’ six-week abortion ban to be “a terrible mistake” in an NBC News interview. The comment ignited a firestorm among anti-abortion activists, some of whom argued the former president should not be the Republican nominee. Iowa’s popular Republican governor Kim Reynolds, who also signed a six-week ban into law, rebuked Trump as well. So far, at least, it hasn’t translated to any damage in the polls.
If these numbers continue to hold relatively steady, it could indicate one of two things: That some within the anti-abortion movement could be more swayed by “a personality,” as Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats recently warned, or that the activists have overestimated how much the party faithful agree with them on the specific details of abortion bans.
A new CNN/University of New Hampshire poll found Trump also continues to lead the field in New Hampshire. DeSantis, meanwhile, has dropped a whopping 13 points since the school’s last survey in July. Vivek Ramaswamy, Haley, and Chris Christie are ahead of him by slim margins.