Florida governor Ron DeSantis appears to have weathered the recent post-impeachment polling bump enjoyed by former U.S. president Donald Trump … with numbers for both politicians stabilizing after Trump got a big bounce from GOP voters following his indictment on charges tied to hush money payments to porn stars, among other allegations.
According to the latest aggregate polling data from RealClearPolitics, Trump has seen his support among GOP primary voters climb to 51.4 percent after his indictment – which he has branded as a “political persecution.” That’s a solid number, but as I recently noted Trump’s GOP support “remains below what it was prior to the 2022 elections.”
Many felt Trump held the party back in the previous election cycle, contributing to the non-emergence of an anticipated “red wave.”
To these voters, DeSantis is a potential savior … a candidate who could move the party past Trump and back into the victory column in a national election. DeSantis is well-positioned for such a mission, too, currently drawing the backing of 24.7 percent of the GOP primary electorate, according to the latest RealClearPolitics composites.
That’s obviously well behind Trump (and a few percentage points off of his peak performance) … but DeSantis is currently running almost twenty percentage points ahead of the next GOP candidate in line, former Trump vice president Mike Pence (4.9 percent). He also fares well against the former president in head-to-head matchups, and is positioned to outperform Trump in a general election against U.S. president Joe Biden or other potential Democratic nominees.
DeSantis is taking his yet-to-be-announced presidential bid to a pivotal early voting state … one where Trump has amassed extensive institutional support. Actually, that’s putting it politely. Trump has an absolute chokehold on the local party apparatus in South Carolina … although he will be tested in the Palmetto State this go-round by DeSantis, as well as two homegrown presidential aspirants, U.S. senator Tim Scott and former governor Nikki Haley.
DeSantis supporters have been active in South Carolina already, but the 44-year-old Jacksonville native has yet to make a public appearance in the “First in the South” pressure cooker. According to reporter Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press, that will change next Wednesday (April 19, 2023) in Spartanburg, S.C. at a rally hosted by state senator Josh Kimbrell.
Stay tuned for details on that event …
Kimbrell told Kinnard he prefers DeSantis to Trump, but said the Florida governor needed to spend more time in the Palmetto stand “pressing the flesh” and “rolling his sleeves up.” DeSantis visited the Palmetto State last spring, but that was for a private event.
An Iraq War veteran, DeSantis served as a lawyer for the U.S. Navy and an assistant U.S. attorney prior to entering politics. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale (and star outfielder on the Bulldogs’ baseball team), DeSantis went on to attend Harvard law school – where he graduated cum laude.
DeSantis made a name for himself during the Covid-19 pandemic, aggressively challenging federal mandates and moving to reopen the Sunshine State for business faster than almost any other state in America. He also endeared himself to social conservatives by challenging über-liberal Disney in the nation’s escalating culture wars.
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Trump has been merciless in attacking DeSantis during the latter’s political ascent – including the latter’s landslide victory in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial race. As this story was going to press, in fact, Trump was busy needling DeSantis on his Truth Social platform.
“I guess Ron DeSantis is not quite as popular in Florida as people thought,” Trump wrote, referencing a recent poll showing him leading DeSantis by fifteen percentage points in a head-to-head contest in the Sunshine State. “I assume, among other things, that they don’t want their Social Security and Medicare cut!”
Actually, Trump and DeSantis share the same status quo views when it comes to entitlements. Among GOP presidential hopefuls, only Haley has distinguished herself by proposing something resembling reform of this unsustainable system – although I have doubts as to whether she is committed to seeing such reforms through.
Trump has welcomed Haley into the 2024 presidential race with open arms – which is odd considering how harshly she criticized him in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 rioting at the U.S. Capitol.
By contrast, he has been bashing DeSantis for months – referring to him as “Meatball Ron” and “Ron DeSanctimonius.”
Republicans kick off their primary process with the Iowa Caucus on February 5, 2024. New Hampshire comes eight days later (February 13, 2024) followed by South Carolina and Nevada (February 24, 2024). As for Democrats, they are currently scheduled to kick off their primary process in the Palmetto State on February 3, 2024 followed by New Hampshire and Nevada (February 6, 2024), Georgia (February 13, 2024) and Michigan (February 27, 2024).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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