April 23, 2023 | 5:29 p.m
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be closing the gap on former President Donald Trump as the potential Republican presidential nominee, a new NBC poll shows.
DeSantis’ improving numbers come after a majority of Americans say they don’t want either Trump, 76, or President Biden, 80, to run for the nation’s highest office in 2024, according to the poll.
In the hypothetical primary battle for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has come out on top with GOP voters, the NBC poll said — but by a much smaller margin than a Yahoo News/YouGov poll in early April.
The new NBC poll found that 46 percent of GOP primary voters favor Trump as their first choice, while 31 percent say they would choose DeSantis, who is expected to throw his hat into the race.
The poll a few weeks ago showed Trump leading DeSantis 57 percent to 31 percent among GOP and Republican voters.
Meanwhile, NBC’s poll revealed worrisome flags for both Trump and Biden, who is expected to announce his Democratic re-election bid this week.
A whopping 70 percent of Americans gave the thumbs-down for Biden to run, including more than half of registered Democrats, the survey said.
Nearly 50 percent of those opposed to Biden’s re-election bid cited his age.
And 60 percent of Americans — including a third of Republicans — said they don’t think Trump should run in 2024.
“Sequels are often hits at the box office, but obviously not at the polls,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research, who conducted the survey with fellow Republican Bill McInturf and his team at Public Opinion Strategies.
McInturf added: “It’s clear that people don’t want a rematch between Biden and Trump.”
A Democrat who was polled for the poll referenced both Biden and Trump when he said, “The president has to reflect the age group of the country.
“Both of them should retire. It’s someone else’s turn.”
Still, more than two-thirds of Republican primary voters said they continued to support the former Trump despite his criminal indictment and other legal investigations, according to an NBC poll.
Voters in the Republican primary were asked by pollsters whether the investigations against Trump “are a politically motivated attempt to stop” and whether they still support the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, and 68% said yes.
After finding Trump and DeSantis to be the GOP’s preferred candidates, the poll showed former Vice President Mike Pence at 6 percent, former South Carolina Gov. and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Arkansas Asa Hutchinson tied with 3% and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy had 2% support.
The poll showed that only 41% of all adults surveyed approve of Biden’s job performance, while 54% disapprove.
“President Biden’s numbers are not where they need to be at this point,” Horwitt said, noting the president’s struggles with independents.
But Biden still remains slightly more popular than Trump: 38 percent of adults polled say they have a favorable opinion of the current president, compared to 48 percent who have an unfavorable opinion.
By comparison, 34% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 53% have an unfavorable opinion.
The NBC News poll was conducted April 14-18. The margin of error for 292 Republican voters was plus or minus 6 percentage points.
The overall poll included 1,000 adults — including 861 reached by cellphone — and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.