Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, presidential candidate, speaks to a crowd in Gilbert, South Carolina, on June 2, 2023.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is the favorite Republican candidate among millionaires, although their support for former President Donald Trump is growing, according to the CNBC Millionaire Survey.

Now only 32% are millionaire Republicans. support DeSantis as the GOP candidate, according to the poll, which polls individuals with $1 million or more in investable assets. That’s a big drop from the 54% who supported DeSantis at the end of 2022, according to polls.

At the same time, more respondents are getting behind former President Donald Trump. He has the support of 28% of Republican millionaires, just behind DeSantis. The share of Republican millionaires supporting Trump jumped from 17% at the end of 2022.

DeSantis is doing better than Trump among millionaire independent voters, with 20% favoring DeSantis and 7% backing Trump.

Still, millionaires expect Trump to win the GOP primary in 2024. When asked who they think will be the Republican presidential nominee, 49% said Trump, compared to 28% who said DeSantis.

Of course, millionaires don’t always accurately predict elections. According to CNBC Millionaire Surveys, they supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race before Trump defeated her, and they supported Trump in 2019 polls before President Joe Biden defeated him.

Still, a big drop in support for DeSantis and growing enthusiasm for Trump could signal a change in the wind among the donor class. DeSantis’ battle with Disney and other policies have already caused some of his biggest billionaire backers, including digital-trading billionaire Thomas Peterffy, to suspend their donations.

In a straight fight between Biden and Trump, millionaires still favor Biden by a slim margin. About 55% of millionaires would back Biden in a 2020 rematch, while 45% would favor Trump. Meanwhile, 84% of Republican millionaires would vote for Trump in a Biden-Trump election.

With the election still more than a year away, other Republican candidates could emerge. Former Vice President Mike Pence has 10% support among Republican millionaires, up slightly from 8% in 2022. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is also popular among 10% of survey respondents, up from 6% in 2022.

On the Democratic side, 65% of Democratic millionaires said they support Biden. The second Democrat is California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has not announced a run for president, but received 13% support. Vice President Kamala Harris gets 4% of Democratic millionaire support, while Hillary Clinton gets 7%.

The CNBC Millionaire Survey was conducted online in April. A total of 764 respondents with investable assets of $1 million or more qualified for the survey. Respondents had to be a financial decision-maker or jointly participate in financial decision-making in the household. The survey is conducted twice a year, in spring and autumn.

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