President Donald Trump is expanding his already sizeable lead in Iowa, according to a prominent new poll.
In the state that leads off the Republican presidential nominating calendar, Trump stands at 51% support among those likely to take part in Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a distant second at 19%, according to the latest NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll.
Meanwhile, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is at 16%.
The survey, conducted December 2-7, was released on Monday.
The release of the poll comes with five weeks to go until the January 15 Iowa caucuses.
Trump’s lead over the rest of the field of 2024 GOP nomination rivals has expanded by five points since October.
It is the largest recorded lead so close to a competitive Republican caucus in the history of the survey.
The survey is considered by many to be the gold standard of Iowa caucus polling.
J. Ann Selzer, the pollster who has conducted the survey for the past three decades, points to the recent winnowing of the once-large Republican presidential field.
Selzer notes that “the field may have shrunk, but it may have made Donald Trump even stronger.
“I would call his lead commanding at this point.”
Trump is aiming for a big victory next month in the caucuses to try and bring the nomination race to an early conclusion, so he can focus on a rematch with Democrat President Joe Biden.
Trump’s large double-digit lead in the survey is fueled, in part, by the strong support of evangelical voters and likely first-time caucus-goers.
Evangelists enjoy outsized influence in Iowa Republican politics.
Additionally, nearly three-quarters of Iowa Republicans believe Trump can defeat Biden in next year’s general election.
The new poll in Iowa is also the latest to suggest that Trump supporters are more enthusiastic and committed to supporting their candidate than those backing the 45th president’s GOP rivals.
Last week, the Trump campaign said it was shifting into a higher gear in the final weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses.
“We have an extremely aggressive operation and an extremely aggressive schedule,” Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita said in a statement.
LaCivita previewed that the Trump campaign is planning a slew of Iowa visits not only from the former president, but also from “dozens of surrogates that are going to be storming the state campaigning… in every venue that has people.”
He said there were “close to 1,500-1,600 precinct captains throughout the state that, literally, their sole job is to run each individual caucus that takes place and making sure that the list of the targeted voters supporting President Trump show up.”
Trump’s campaign said it was not taking anything for granted. Looking ahead to the final stretch leading up to the caucuses, LaCivita said “our only concern is complacency.”
DeSantis, meanwhile, earlier this month fulfilled his goal of stopping in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
He has repeatedly been joined on the campaign trail in the Hawkeye State by popular Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who endorsed him in early November.
Also backing DeSantis was Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, an influential social conservative organization in the state.
DeSantis has repeatedly vowed he will pull off an upset by winning Iowa.
Haley, who has enjoyed momentum in the polls in recent months, thanks in part to well-received performances in the first three GOP presidential primary debates, has leapfrogged DeSantis for second place in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary and votes second in the Republican nominating schedule, and her home state, which holds the first southern contest.
She also aims to make a fight of it in Iowa, where the new poll is the latest to suggest she is close to pulling even with DeSantis for second place.
Two weeks ago, Haley landed the backing of Americans for Prosperity Action, the political wing of the influential and deep-pocketed fiscally conservative network founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers.
AFP Action has pledged to spend tens of millions of dollars and mobilize its formidable grassroots operation to boost Haley and help push the Republican Party past Trump.
The new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey indicates multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur and first-time candidate Vivek Ramaswamy at 5% support in Iowa.
Ramaswamy, who has spent millions of his own money on his campaign, has predicted that he will pull off a “surprise” in Iowa, where he has spent plenty of time reaching out to voters.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is making his second bid for the White House, stands at 4% support in the poll.
However, Christie has not campaigned in the Hawkeye State, as he concentrates most of his time and resources in New Hampshire.
The poll also indicates former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson at 1%.
Hutchinson remains in the 2024 race even after failing to make the stage at the past three Republican presidential nomination debates.