DeSantis allies privately express anger over Trump's "DeSanctimonious" jab
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Should there be a crowded Republican primary field, former President Donald Trump would be the narrow frontrunner, according to an early poll on the 2024 race conducted by the Club for Growth Action, an influential conservative organization. 

Trump leads the field in the nationwide poll with 37%, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis comes in a close second, with 33%.

Down in single digits, former Vice President Mike Pence is third at 7%, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is fourth at 5%, followed by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, at 2%. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin would get 1% of the vote, while 14% of those surveyed say they are undecided. 

The poll was conducted from Jan. 17-23 and surveyed 3,015 likely Republican primary voters nationwide. The margin of error is +/-1.8%. 

When it comes to those who identify as “very conservative,” Trump leads DeSantis by 16 points in the group’s poll.

Club for Growth Action president and former Congressman Dave McIntosh told reporters Monday that the wider gap between the two with what likely will comprise most of the GOP presidential primary electorate shows “Trump still has a very strong pull.”

“If you have a diverse field against him, DeSantis lags behind him,” McIntosh noted, but he added the Florida governor’s 35% with this group is a “good starting place.”

For those who identify as “somewhat conservative,” DeSantis leads Trump by 6 points. 

In a head-to-head matchup between just Trump and DeSantis in a hypothetical primary, DeSantis leads Trump by 9 points. 

The relationship between McIntosh’s group and  Trump has been icy in recent months, and on Monday McIntosh signaled an openness to supporting another candidate in the 2024 presidential election. 

“We haven’t decided to endorse anybody… what the Club believes the Republican Party should do is make sure whoever we nominate will actually win [in the general election],” he said, noting that earlier polling by the group showed DeSantis beating President Joe Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup.

“I think that means the party should be open to looking at a different candidate. DeSantis is in the strongest position,” he added. 

The Americans for Prosperity (AFP), another notable GOP outside group with deep pockets powered by powerful conservative billionaire Charles Koch, said Sunday it’s planning to oppose Trump and actively help one of his primary opponents. 

McIntosh said he wouldn’t lump Club for Growth Action with AFP, though, and was quick to say the group would support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.

Fin Gómez contributed to this report.

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