Don vs Ron: Why Trump beats DeSantis in the 2024 race

WASHINGTON: He’s young, scandal-free and a darling of conservatives for his adherence to an “anti-reawakening” agenda that fueled his meteoric rise in the Republican Party.
Yet Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis has failed to put a glove on Donald Trump in the race to challenge Democratic incumbent Joe Biden for the White House in 2024 – baffling observers who view the former president as more vulnerable than ever.
On paper, the nomination should be a stretch for Trump, who has been impeached twice in a single term, has lost ground to Republicans in three election cycles and is mired in criminal and civil investigations into alleged misconduct. .
But the 76-year-old Republican primary favorite baffled his critics, opening up a double-digit lead over his former protege as DeSantis failed to capitalize on doubts over Trump’s eligibility.
Due to officially launch his campaign any day, DeSantis has marketed himself to the Republican establishment as a less chaotic avatar of Trumpism than Trump himself.
The governor won a landslide re-election last year in what was until recently considered a swing state, and has won applause from the right for clashing with Florida liberals on immigration, gun rights and fire and education.
But a number of missteps have raised red flags about the 44-year-old former military officer’s preparation for national office.
A bitter and avoidable row with Florida’s biggest employer, Disney, over its policies has baffled champions of free-market capitalism, while a six-week abortion ban it enacted has made fear to the moderates that he is disconnected from public opinion.
DeSantis has also been accused of appearing light on foreign policy, taking jabs for downplaying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and giving ‘low power’ speeches during a recent trip to Britain.
CNN political analyst Harry Enten suggested that DeSantis would pin his hopes on his official launch by restarting a campaign that is floundering before it has even come out of the blocks.
“If not, this could end up being one of the most boring presidential primary seasons of the modern era, given Biden and Trump’s significant advantages,” Enten said in a recent comment. .
Still, the momentum is definitely going against DeSantis, who saw Trump’s 15-point lead at the end of March double in the most recent RealClearPolitics average of major polls.
It’s not just that DeSantis is backing down: Trump’s numbers have jumped from 40% to more than 50% since he was indicted for financial crimes in New York.
Despite this distraction — plus threats of a civil rape case and criminal investigations into allegations of election interference and mishandling of government records — Trump has shown focus and discipline during weeks of relentless attacks. against DeSantis.
The pro-Trump Make America Great Again political action committee spent millions this spring on ads disparaging DeSantis as a zealous social rights cutter.
In one particularly spectacular coup, Trump won the approval of most members of Florida’s congressional delegation while DeSantis was out of state, on a visit to Washington.
“On the campaign trail, as the scrutiny increased, DeSantis was less impressive than expected,” said Larry Sabato, a professor and political analyst at the University of Virginia.
“He doesn’t connect well with a lot of people, his speeches are sometimes unimpressive and he’s made some weird choices that have hurt him, like beating up on Disney – an American icon.”
Perhaps DeSantis’ biggest advantage is his fundraising. He is said to have a campaign war chest of up to $110 million, giving him deeper pockets than Trump’s campaign or any other potential rival.
But name recognition is worth more at the polls than cash and Trump – one of the world’s most famous faces – doesn’t have to spend a fortune to introduce himself to Americans.
Analysts are warning against DeSantis’ tally just yet, pointing to his popularity among suburban voters that Republicans desperately need in the upcoming election.
And his supporters make a broader eligibility argument — that the governor can beat Biden when there may be no White House return for Trump.
“Governor DeSantis is a proven, effective leader,” New Hampshire Majority Leader Jason Osborne said in a recent endorsement touted by aides to the Florida governor.
“He has shown he has the determination to change broken systems and fight radical agendas that try to undermine our society.”


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