Kaleigh Rogers: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis simply introduced he’s working for president. He’s in all probability former President Donald Trump’s most important opponent for the Republican Celebration 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 Celebration during the last couple years?
Geoffrey Skelley: Proper, so tracing Ron DeSantis’s background, like how he bought right here, it begins with 2018: He wins the Florida governorship. It’s the third greatest 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 bunch of headline-making strikes on largely 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 notably leaned into what he has referred to as:
Ron DeSantis: Florida is the place woke goes to die.
Skelley: Final yr, as an example, he signed what’s also known as the “Don’t Say Homosexual” invoice, which banned discussions of sexuality and gender identification in kindergarten by means of 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 long run 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 essential 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 p.c. Trump is at 53 p.c, so that won’t sound too nice for DeSantis. Nonetheless, traditionally, somebody polling at DeSantis’s degree would have roughly a 1-in-3 shot of profitable the celebration’s nomination, though normally that kind of candidate isn’t dealing with another person polling round 50 p.c.
Nonetheless, 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? Properly, Trump is unquestionably a part of the story. Trump declared his candidacy again in November and from kind 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 type, and has additionally attacked DeSantis for having backed cuts to entitlement packages equivalent to Social Safety and Medicare whereas he was a congressman.
A stream of detrimental tales has possible harm DeSantis, too. Media scrutiny has raised questions on DeSantis’s private attraction, both face-to-face with voters or together 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 kind 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 inventive 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 potential to get well, although?
Skelley: I feel Trump is the favourite. There’s no query. However DeSantis nonetheless has loads 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 current ebook.
And whereas he has misplaced floor within the polls, he’s in higher form than principally every other Republican candidate — nobody else is clearing 6 p.c 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 do this once more for his presidential marketing campaign, you may see he’d have the power to lift the excessive ranges of economic assist 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 write down a DeSantis comeback story. And when you’re going to battle, let it occur earlier than you’re formally within the race, you understand? Now the state of affairs is that any constructive story for DeSantis, whether or not he’s hitting again at Trump or perhaps 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.