The Wallstreet Journal recently published a poll showing that DeSantis is ahead of Trump, 52% to 38%, among likely GOP primary voters.
Republicans who say they will vote in a party primary or nominating contest view DeSantis favorably, with 86% viewing him favorably compared to 74% who view Trump favorably. One in ten likely GOP primary voters expressed an insufficient knowledge of Mr. DeSantis.
This is the second poll that has recently favored DeSantis. After Trump announced his presidency, a Quinnipiac University poll (done in late November) found that 43 percent of Americans want Ron DeSantis to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, while 13 percent want someone else, and 15 percent are undecided.
Republican voters are evenly split between Trump and DeSantis, with 44 percent preferring Trump, 44 percent preferring DeSantis, and 11 percent are undecided or did not offer an opinion.
In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis won reelection by a large majority, strengthening his standing as a serious contender for the party’s 2024 presidential candidacy.
However, DeSantis shows no indications that he is prepared to publicly launch his candidacy. He emphasizes his commitment to his role as governor and dismisses inquiries about his presidential aspirations.
Signs show that it is evident to anybody who looks that he is prepared to run. The publishing of his book, The Courage to Be Free, is scheduled for early next year. According to the publisher’s press announcement, the book is about a governor who has fought—and won—battle after battle, beating not just resistance from the political left but also a flood of negative media coverage heralding the end of the world.
DeSantis raised more than $200 million for his reelection as governor, including a single gift of $10 million from a Las Vegas real estate mogul. He has at least $90 million in the bank and continues to raise funds. His enormous campaign funds helped him defeat Charlie Crist, his Democratic opponent, by nearly 20 points.
At a recent press conference, DeSantis stated that they showed how it’s done in Florida, adding that he won the most votes for a Republican governor in Florida’s history. During the Reconstruction period, the first Republican governor of Florida, Harrison Reed, was elected by a larger majority. However, DeSantis’ resounding victory delivered a clear message that Florida, previously considered the greatest swing state in the country, is now solidly in the Republican column.
Giancarlo Sopo, a Republican media expert, asserts that DeSantis’ decisive victory bolsters his popularity. Sopo adds that DeSantis knows how to energize Republican voters while simultaneously attracting independents and moderate Democrats to the party. Others cite a low turnout by Democrats as a significant factor in DeSantis’ large winning margin.
Here are some plausible reasons why DeSantis has not yet declared his candidacy for president:
If DeSantis intends to run for president while governor, Florida law would need to be amended. The current Florida law requires state officeholders to retire if they seek federal office. However, Republican leaders, notably state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, asserted that the legislature would repeal the statute. Passidomo recently told reporters if a Florida governor wishes to run for president, he should be permitted to do so.
As a potential Republican presidential contender, DeSantis has an impressive record of conservatism. He capitalized on the public’s discontent with COVID-19 and spearheaded the battle against mandatory vaccination and mask use. He has advocated for “parental rights” and enacted limitations on how race, sexual orientation, and gender identity may be handled in schools. Additionally, he passed a bill prohibiting abortions beyond 15 weeks.
These initiatives have made him a frequent guest on Fox News, which has increased his name awareness among Republican voters nationwide. Recent surveys indicate that he is more popular among Republicans than Donald Trump, and Trump, who has already declared his candidacy, has taken note. According to Trump, DeSantis running for office would be a “mistake.” He has already attempted a line of attack, dubbing Ron “DeSanctimonious.”
DeSantis has avoided responding to the assaults, describing them as “noise” at one press conference. Since his previous election, when he launched a campaign ad in which he read Trump’s The Art of the Deal to his young son, he rarely references the former president.
According to University of North Florida political scientist Michael Binder, DeSantis wants his strategy to resemble Trump’s without the erratic comments, Twitter warfare, and personal assaults. Binder believes that DeSantis is highly interested in Trump’s fans and that he has identified a very nice niche among them.
Binder anticipates that DeSantis will not enter the Republican presidential race very soon. One reason is that if he does, it would certainly ignite an open battle between him and Trump. As governor, DeSantis can mostly ignore Trump while conversing with fundraisers and going to areas holding primaries in early 2024.
Political scientist Michael McDonald believes DeSantis would focus on issues rather than personal assaults, taking a leaf from the candidate who “defeated” Trump. McDonald replies, using Trump’s nickname for the president, “It was Sleepy Joe.” In some respects, DeSantis is fashioning himself in the image of Sleepy Joe Biden, who isn’t flinging firebombs and is more policy-oriented.
As the governor of the third-largest state, DeSantis has several advantages. However, running for president would place him in the public eye. And according to Binder, there are still many unknowns regarding DeSantis. “He hasn’t been outstanding on a debate stage,” Binder adds. He is uncomfortable with small-group, hand-to-hand, hand-shaking on the lines, and he does not flourish at a stadium with 20,000 spectators.
For fans of DeSantis, there is an additional caveat. Early presidential frontrunners have not been treated kindly by history. Just ask another well-known former Republican governor, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, who reached his height before the 2016 election and was eliminated by Trump.