Lara Trump is strongly positioned for a potential North Carolina Senate bid, but her lack of commitment one way or another has left other Republicans considering a run in limbo. A survey published by The Hill indicates a 12-point lead over other potential Republican candidates, with Trump leading the pack on every metric and buoyed by loyalty to her father-in-law.
In total, Trump garnered the support of 32% of Republican voters asked by polling firm Cygal about a potential 8-way primary.
Her closest competitor is current North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who received 20% of potential supporters. Former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest managed 14% and 12%, respectively.
The only candidate to have actually announced his campaign, former Rep. Mark Walker, received 3% support.
Trump led the field on likeability as well, although Forest trailed only two points behind her rating of 66%.
It may not be hard to guess why her numbers are so high, although the Cygal survey puts numbers to it: Donald Trump remains the guiding force within the GOP.
Fully 86% of respondents viewed the former president favorably, with 69% giving him a rating of very favorable. Numbers comparing loyalty to Trump versus the GOP itself have also remained steady. Fifty-five percent of respondents viewed themselves as Trump followers first, Republicans second.
“A Trump-endorsed candidate for an open Senate seat in a state Trump won is a big advantage. A Trump-endorsed candidate for an open Senate seat in a state Trump won who’s also named Trump has a humongous advantage,” long-time Donald Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway told the Charlotte Observer.
Despite Lara Trump’s favorable numbers, she has not confirmed she will run. The ambiguity of her plans put some of her potential opponents in a precarious position, wanting to get to work if she’s not running but not wanting to waste time and money on what could be a longshot campaign.
Michael Luethy, a campaign consultant for Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., says Budd is considering a run for the seat but needs confirmation one way or another from Trump.
“[Budd has] been talking to her. He hasn’t ceded his decision-making to her, but if she got in, he wouldn’t run,” Luethy said. “That said, she could get in in October and he could have been running for six months or so. It’s been a friendly conversation. He’s been trying to give her some space to make up her mind, too, while he’s working through his process separately.”
Lara Trump, 38, is married to Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s youngest son. Lara Trump currently works as a contributor to Fox News. Her possible candidacy comes amid speculation that Donald Trump will run for president in 2024.
North Carolina, which as a Democrat as a governor, has recently been considered a future battleground state. Ahead of the 2020 elections, polls showed Democrats performing well in key races.