Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ first public visit to the early-voting state of South Carolina comes at a pivotal moment in his yet-to-be-announced bid for the American presidency.
Riding a wave of momentum following his decisive reelection win last fall, DeSantis has seen his upward trajectory grind to a screeching halt in recent weeks. The 44-year-old Jacksonville native is suddenly dealing with disgruntled donors, dipping poll numbers, diminished national clout and … a growing Disney problem.
Most ominously, DeSantis is facing blowback from the people subsidizing his national ascendency.
According to an exclusive report in Rolling Stone this week, DeSantis is experiencing a “megadonor meltdown.”
“What the f*ck is wrong with RD?” one of these donors wrote, according to the report, apparently upset the governor failed to cut short a recent campaign trip in response to flooding in Florida.
Another donor called DeSantis a “damn wimp” in respond to increasingly harsh invective against him from Donald Trump, who has seen has poll numbers surge among GOP voters following his indictment on charges tied to hush money payments to porn stars.
According to authors Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, megadonor investments in DeSantis’ prospective presidential bid “are predicated in large part on a belief that he can take down (Trump).”
“That belief seems to be wavering, as the donor revolt has been brewing since at least last month,” Suebsaeng and Rawnsley noted.
Polls support that perception. According to the latest aggregate data from RealClearPolitics, DeSantis is backed by 23.6 percent of the GOP electorate – down from 30.1 percent three weeks ago. Meanwhile, Trump is currently backed by 52.3 percent of Republican voters – up from 44.3 percent three weeks ago.
Add it up and that’s nearly a fifteen percentage point swing … in Trump’s favor.
Politicians with their fingers in the wind are taking notice. On Tuesday, DeSantis traveled to Washington, D.C. for a visit intended “to demonstrate strength with the Washington establishment,” according to Sally Goldenberg of Politico.
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Did it? No. Especially not after Trump picked up several additional endorsements from members of the Florida congressional delegation. Congressmen Greg Steube, John Rutherford and Brian Mast all indicated their preference for the former president – although DeSantis did receive the endorsement of congresswoman Laurel Lee.
“It was the latest indication of the early shine dulling on a candidate initially heralded by Republicans who don’t want Trump to be their party’s 2024 nominee — and more proof of Trump’s indictment bolstering his standing in the GOP field,” Goldenberg noted in her report.
On the Disney front, DeSantis is facing significant pushback from the entertainment giant – which has assumed a lead left-leaning role in the ongoing American culture wars. In response, DeSantis recently threatened to build a new state prison next door to Disney’s Florida-based theme parks.
“What should we do with this land?” DeSantis told reporters on Monday. “Maybe create a state park. Maybe try to do more amusement parks. Someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless.”
While that remark was intended as red meat for the MAGA faithful, many of them are frustrated with DeSantis’ handling of the Disney drama – believing he allowed the über-woke indoctrination incorporation to outmaneuver him politically.
DeSantis’ South Carolina trip – which includes stops in North Charleston, Summerville and Spartanburg – also comes at a time when his standing among “First in the South” GOP primary voters is slipping. According to a new poll from National Public Affairs, DeSantis is backed by 21 percent of Palmetto State Republicans – roughly the same as a recent Winthrop University poll released last week.
Trump led the GOP field with 43 percent support in the latest survey – a number which is bolstered by the significant institutional support he still enjoys in the Palmetto State.
DeSantis previously enjoyed a big lead over former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley in ‘First in the South’ polling – but the latest two surveys show the two presidential aspirants statistically tied. Also, U.S. senator Tim Scott is preparing to announce his presidential bid – which will further complicate DeSantis’ prospects in the Palmetto State.
Can DeSantis turn things around? Or is he on the verge of flaming out before he even enters the race?
We shall see if his South Carolina visit reorients his trajectory … or precipitates his decline.
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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Ol’ Pudding Fingers never stood a chance.
The GQP only has Trump and FoxNews.
How are those two doing these days?
He lost me on the Walt Disney Company mess. What the heck is his point? He has failed to realize what Disney has done for Florida tourism.
Oh, it’s the Don Jr position.
Who cares if businesses are “woke”, as long as they give the GOP a bunch of money, it’s cool.
Such strong convictions.
His numbers have gone up again as Trump’s indictment bounce recedes. He hasn’t even announced yet. Once he does, and opens the war chest to campaign and really show voters why he’s so better at “America First” than do-nothing Trump, it will be a whole new ballgame.
Pudding Fingers is already an after thought. Thanks to Trump.
You know those hurricanes that hit Florida and by time they come up to SC they’re nothing more than a tropical fart or something? Yeah, that’s Ron.
Dude needs to go back to taking L’s from Disney in his home state. What a schmuck.
I actually listened to the speeches and really appreciated his views. He has actual substance and a record to prove it. I really liked the cooperation between the government and churches in taking care of people in need. It saves tax payer money and churches are given opportunities to meet needs that they wouldn’t know about. Unfortunately, people do not vote anymore based on substance and character but on emotion and caricatures.
DeSatan is a smarter but just as evil version of Trump. It is a two man race and that isn’t likely to change. DeSatan is waiting for Trump to implode or for Trump fatigue to set it. If either doesn’t happen, he won’t beat Trump. But as it stands, he is the ONLY one that stands any chance at all.
He got about 900-1000 folks in Spartanburg and they loved his BS vitriol. Haley and Scott and the others are not mean enough to be contenders.
DeSantis, like anyone else including Trump, who has a chance at the White House, is owned by The Deep State. He will brag for months about the half baked “Constitutional” carry bill he signed. Why has he not pushed to repeal the Rick Scott red flag law? Like Trump, he will do token good deeds of minimal and/or temporary impact and hype them. Meanwhile, he is allies with the Bushes and is in Soros’ pocket.
Step away from the internet.
You clearly can’t handle it.
Follow your own advice. You clearly cannot handle what you read. It might give you bad dreams.