Donald Trump’s Lead Grows Double Digits Since June; DeSantis Continues to Fall

Former President Donald Trump has increased his lead in the Republican primary race by double digits since June, while his rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has continued to fall, the latest USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll revealed.

Despite months of legal woes and his decision to skip the first two Republican primary debates, Trump has only continued to strengthen his position as the leader of the GOP primary race. 

The survey found a majority, 58 percent, supporting Trump in the primary nationally, reflecting a ten-point increase since June.

Conversely, DeSantis trails by 46 points with 12 percent support, reflecting an 11-point drop since June, when he garnered 23 percent support. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley trails DeSantis closely, just one point behind with 11 percent support. That is a positive trend for the presidential hopeful, as it reflects a seven-point increase since June for Haley.

Every other candidate fell to less than three percent support.

Who Has Qualified for the Third G.O.P. Debate?

Just three candidates appear to have qualified so far for the third Republican presidential debate in Miami on Nov. 8, less than half the number that made it to the first and second debates earlier this year. Former President Donald J. Trump, the clear front-runner in polling and fund-raising, did not participate in the first two debates, and is unlikely to take part in the third.

Those qualified are:

Ron DeSantis

Nikki Haley

Vivek Ramaswamy

To participate, each candidate needs to satisfy fund-raising and polling criteria set by the Republican National Committee. 

Financially, they each need at least 70,000 campaign donors, including at least 200 donors from 20 states or territories. And they need support from at least 4 percent of Republican voters in two national polls, or in one national poll and two polls from a short list of early primary states. These polls have to meet R.N.C. standards, but the committee has generally refused to confirm which surveys count.

The requirements for the debates have gotten progressively stricter, as the R.N.C. has sought to narrow the field of candidates who make it to the stage. Eight candidates qualified for the first debate, and seven qualified for the second.

For former Vice President Mike Pence and former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the threshold of 70,000 individual donors has proved particularly challenging. Both men appear to have fulfilled the polling criteria, but they have yet to announce that they have met the donor threshold.

Candidates have until Nov. 6 to meet the fund-raising and polling requirements. Those who do, as part of their debate qualification, must also sign a pledge to follow several R.N.C. guidelines, including making a promise to support the eventual Republican nominee.