For the last three years, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been considered the heir apparent to former President Donald Trump.
A traditionalist who appeals to the core Republican voters but who has a streak for defiance like the former president, DeSantis's star has been rising among conservatives.
With 2024 inching closer, voters are starting to wonder who their candidate will be for the general election, and it seems like two frontrunners are taking the early lead: DeSantis and Trump.
But what do current polls say about who has the better chance?
Trump v DeSantis: Who Wins?
While the rest of the country's red state politicians were trying to curry favor with former President Trump, DeSantis was very carefully forging his own path.
DeSantis has had to walk the line between agreeing with everything Trump believes in - without rubber stamping the way he behaves. DeSantis has been focused on appealing to the Republican voters who are fed up with Trump's public gaffes but who believe he was on the right path.
As a result, DeSantis's popularity is soaring in Florida where he's enacted multiple bills that appeal to core Republican values.
But is it enough to overcome the momentum and star power of the former president? Here's what the polls say about the likely outcome of the 2024 primaries.
The Western Conservative Summitt conducted a straw poll as it met over the weekend. DeSantis took top honors, for the second year in a row with 71% to 68%. Voters were able to choose more than one option, so percentages total more than 100.
Among likely voter in Nevada, DeSantis earned 48 to Trump's 42. However, when you narrow that focus down to just Republican voters, Trump came out on top with 73 to DeSantis's 69.
Newsweek reports, "A Wisconsin straw poll of GOP activists in May put DeSantis ahead of Trump. Of 325 Republicans, the Florida governor had the support of 38 percent compared to 32 percent who backed Trump.
Recent national polls of Republicans have generally shown Trump as the clear leader for the nomination. DeSantis is regularly in second place.
A February poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports found that nearly half (47 percent) of likely GOP voters would back Trump for the nomination. DeSantis came in second, although he was well behind Trump with 20 percent.
A Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll carried out in May found substantially lower enthusiasm for Trump. In that poll, 30 percent of respondents said they'd back Trump in a hypothetical 2024 GOP primary run. DeSantis still trailed Trump by double digits at 8 percent."
However, despite the fact that the pair seem to be battling it out neck and neck depending on who you ask with Trump on top in some and DeSantis on top of others, many voters responded to polls by USA TODAY/Suffolk University and Echelon Insights which indicated that a majority of respondents don't want Trump to run at all.
No one seems to have told Trump that, as he keeps dropping hints that he's ready to announce his 2024 run.
Regardless of the Polls, Which Politician is the Better Bet in a General Election?
The question remains then: regardless of who voters want in each state, because it seems to vary wildly, who's the better choice?
DeSantis has an uphill battle in his home state. A debacle with unemployment benefits during the pandemic and an aggressive war with Disney that may leave voters on the hook for a significant tax hike starting next year has even his own party voters expressing doubt.
But across the country, DeSantis's willingness to engage in a battle with a major liberal corporation like Disney makes him a superstar. In addition, he provides just the right combination of Donald Trump's "don't care" attitude with the conservative values Trump lacks.
But it's not party-line voters they need to convince. What continues to win elections backed by Trump is the voting bloc's desire to have someone in power who's happy to throw a monkey wrench in the works.
Trump's greatest appeal is that he doesn't tow the party line and appears to be a good solid red politician while not being "one of them."
Voters who choose Trump for those reasons will be hard to sell on DeSantis, who is a clear establishment politician.
The best bet for the Republican party in 2024? Neither Trump nor DeSantis - someone who doesn't bring as much baggage but can get the base electrified and ready to fold in new voters. Their win in 2024 may depend on finding that unicorn.