Trump holds on, DeSantis slips: 3 new polls shine light on Republican presidential primary race

Polls from CNN, Quinnipiac University and Emerson College continue to show Donald Trump with a commanding edge over his competitors.

Donald Trump at a campaign event in Rapid City, S.D.
Donald Trump at a campaign event in Rapid City, S.D. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Three new polls show more or less the same thing: Donald Trump is the Republicans’ overwhelming favorite to be their party’s presidential nominee next year.

Not only that, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, once seen as the best hope for a conservative alternative to Trump, is showing signs of collapse. His diminished standing has divided the non-Trump Republican field among several other candidates.

The failure to settle on an alternative helps Trump. “Every week that goes by, with the fragmentation in the non-Trump bucket, that’s a week that he wins,” Republican consultant Scott Jennings told the Wall Street Journal.

Here is a look at the three noteworthy polls from CNN, Quinnipiac University and Emerson College.

Read more on Yahoo News: 6 Of 8 GOP candidates at debate say they would back nominee Trump even if he's convicted, via HuffPost

CNN: Trump 52%, DeSantis 18%

Ron DeSantis campaigning at Iowa State University
Ron DeSantis campaigning at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. (Hannah Fingerhut/AP)

The new CNN poll finds 52% of respondents favoring Trump as their presidential nominee, up from 47% in June. DeSantis, meanwhile, was far back at 18%, having lost 8% since the June poll. He remains in second place, while former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (7%), former Vice President Mike Pence (7%) and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (6%) are effectively tied for third place.

The poll also shows that most Republicans are not especially concerned about the four separate trials Trump faces in the near future.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 25-31 among 784 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters nationwide.

Read more on Yahoo News: How Trump's trials will make a mess of the 2024 election

Quinnipiac University: Trump holds 50-point lead

Vivek Ramaswamy
Vivek Ramaswamy rapping at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Aug. 12. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The results of the Quinnipiac poll were even better for Trump, who was the top choice of 62% respondents. Again, DeSantis was in second place but fading, with only 12% support, down from 18%.

But the poll, which separately surveyed Democrats, held out hope for Republicans who want anyone but Trump to be their nominee: Nearly half (48%) said “they might change their candidate choice depending on what happens leading up to the Republican primary.”

For that matter, Democrats weren’t especially thrilled with Joe Biden, with 58% telling pollsters they were open to another candidate.

“Clearly, loyalty to the two leading candidates in the primaries for president is not written in stone,” Quinnipiac analyst Tim Malloy said.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 7-11 among 728 Republican and Republican-leaning voters nationwide.

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Emerson College: Trump slides in Iowa — but so does DeSantis

Donald Trump
Trump in Pickens, S.C., July 1. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

If a candidate is going to emerge as a credible alternative to Trump, he or she will have to do it in Iowa, whose first-in-the-nation caucus will take place on Jan. 15.

The most recent Emerson poll suggests that while it will be difficult to defeat Trump there, it may not be impossible. His support in the state, where evangelical Christians hold significant sway, has fallen from 62% to 49%.

DeSantis has made Iowa the focus of his campaign, but he also lost ground (sliding from 20% to 14% since May). Meanwhile, Haley (7%), Ramaswamy (7%) and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (8%) all saw their support increase.

A recent report in NBC News described Trump’s campaign in Iowa as unfocused and unenergetic, perhaps providing his opponents the very opening they need.

But even if Trump loses Iowa, the winner is unlikely to emerge as the eventual nominee, if history holds. Past victors have included Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, none of whom went on to become the GOP nominee.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 7-9 among 357 Iowa Republican caucus voters.

Read more on Yahoo News: Trump gets mixed reaction from crowd as he shows up at Iowa-Iowa State football game, via Deadline