Kaleigh Rogers: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis simply introduced he’s operating for president. He’s in all probability former President Donald Trump’s most important opponent for the Republican Occasion nomination. Now that he’s formally introduced, I spoke to FiveThirtyEight senior elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley to seek out out extra in regards to the marketing campaign and whether or not or not he truly has a shot at profitable the GOP nomination.
OK Geoffrey, so we’ve been ready for Ron DeSantis to announce for some time now. Lots of people anticipated him to run. What has made him such an enormous determine inside the Republican Occasion during the last couple years?
Geoffrey Skelley: Proper, so tracing Ron DeSantis’s background, like how he obtained right here, it begins with 2018: He wins the Florida governorship. It’s the third largest state within the nation in order that’s going to get you some consideration proper off the bat. He then actually began to garner consideration in 2020 and 2021 with a number of headline-making strikes on principally culture-war points. As an illustration, he moved to reopen the state rapidly after the preliminary onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2022 he provoked controversy by placing migrants on a aircraft to liberal Martha’s Winery.
After which over the previous couple of years, I feel he’s significantly leaned into what he has known as:
Ron DeSantis: Florida is the place woke goes to die.
Skelley: Final 12 months, as an illustration, he signed what’s sometimes called the “Don’t Say Homosexual” invoice, which banned discussions of sexuality and gender id in kindergarten by third grade — a rule that has since been expanded to cowl throughout highschool. All of this has made him a darling of conservative media, which particularly performed him up because the candidate of the longer term in 2022, each earlier than and after he gained reelection.
Rogers: So he’s clearly a major opponent for Trump, however does he even have a shot at beating Trump for the nomination?
Skelley: It’s nonetheless early and I feel it’s necessary to emphasize that, however DeSantis will be the solely Republican who can defeat Trump within the 2024 GOP main. At the moment, in FiveThirtyEight’s nationwide polling common for the Republican main, DeSantis is at about 21 %. Trump is at 53 %, so that will not sound too nice for DeSantis. Nevertheless, traditionally, somebody polling at DeSantis’s degree would have roughly a 1-in-3 shot of profitable the celebration’s nomination, though normally that form of candidate isn’t dealing with another person polling round 50 %.
Nevertheless, DeSantis has skilled a slide over the previous few months. Again round New Years, he truly led Trump in some head-to-head polls and wasn’t far behind Trump in surveys testing most potential candidates. So that you would possibly ask, what occurred? Nicely, Trump is certainly a part of the story. Trump declared his candidacy again in November and from form of the getgo has sought to outline DeSantis early on whereas DeSantis hasn’t actively been within the race. Trump has labeled him “DeSanctimonious,” in traditional Trump kind, and has additionally attacked DeSantis for having backed cuts to entitlement applications resembling Social Safety and Medicare whereas he was a congressman.
A stream of unfavorable tales has seemingly harm DeSantis, too. Media scrutiny has raised questions on DeSantis’s private attraction, both face-to-face with voters or along with his fellow Republican officeholders. As an illustration, Trump managed to get most Republican members of Congress from Florida to endorse him as a substitute of DeSantis. All this has prompted some GOP donors and strategists to stress about his power as a candidate. So all this has form of labored collectively, I feel, to trigger a downshift in DeSantis’s stature simply as he’s declaring his candidacy.
Rogers: Proper yeah, certainly one of Trump’s extra artistic nicknames — “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Perhaps not as catchy as “Sleepy Joe Biden.” We’ll see. It looks as if DeSantis is beginning his marketing campaign off just a little bit on his backfoot. Is it doable to recuperate, although?
Skelley: I feel Trump is the favourite. There’s no query. However DeSantis nonetheless has lots going for him because the Republican race actually ramps up now that he’s in it formally. For one factor, he has all these conservative coverage accomplishments in Florida to promote to the celebration base as proof that he can “make America Florida,” as he put it in his latest ebook.
And whereas he has misplaced floor within the polls, he’s in higher form than mainly some other Republican candidate — nobody else is clearing 6 % in our nationwide polling common. And as he confirmed in his 2022 reelection race, DeSantis can elevate gobs of cash. So assuming that he can try this once more for his presidential marketing campaign, you may see he’d have the flexibility to lift the excessive ranges of monetary help wanted to essentially run a big-time marketing campaign.
And so apart from his resume and fundraising prowess, I additionally suppose that one other factor that may assist DeSantis right here is that the media is already itching to put in writing a DeSantis comeback story. And when you’re going to wrestle, let it occur earlier than you’re formally within the race, ? Now the scenario is that any constructive story for DeSantis, whether or not he’s hitting again at Trump or possibly getting a brand new endorsement from somebody vital within the celebration, can contribute to a revival narrative. To borrow a nickname Invoice Clinton gave himself again in 1992, maybe DeSantis will even be the “comeback child” within the 2024 Republican main.