Former President Donald Trump has so far maintained remarkable control over the Republican Party since leaving the White House, with polls repeatedly showing more than 50% of the GOP base backing a hypothetical third run for president.
However, according to a Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll released on Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could well be in with a shot of taking the Republican nomination in 2024. All it would require is his willingness to go up against Trump and risk dividing his own base in the process, and a smaller field of candidates to consolidate support.
The poll showed former President Trump leading Governor DeSantis 47%-40%, and also revealed how DeSantis would likely have more support among independent voters than Trump.
David Paleologos, the director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center, said that DeSantis is “competitive in this poll, even against the former president.”
While Trump is plagued by a number of major scandals – whether or not his supporters argue they were manufactured by Democrats – DeSantis is relatively scandal-free and a fresh face in a national race.
And while the poll also showed that Trump would beat President Joe Biden handily in a presidential race in Florida, DeSantis would win by a bigger margin. The poll shows Trump winning 47%-44%, while DeSantis would win 52%-44%. If this effect is replicated in other states, it could make a DeSantis candidacy attractive to GOP primary voters.
Team Trump Wants DeSantis to Stay Away
Roger Stone, the political consultant who worked with then-candidate Donald Trump in the earliest days of his 2016 campaign, warned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to stay away from the 2024 presidential primary.
During an interview on The Other Side of Midnight on WABC Radio last Tuesday, Stone was asked by host Frank Morano if the feud between President Donald Trump and Governor DeSantis was real, or if the media was just hyping it up.
“I believe in loyalty…let’s be very clear, prior to Donald Trump’s endorsement, Ron DeSantis was a little-known congressman with an ill-fitting suit, a bad haircut, and an undistinguished record,” he said.
Stone went on to say that Trump had to go out to Florida in the last two weeks of DeSantis’ campaign to “drag” the candidate out, describing him as a “lackluster campaigner” who “essentially lost two debates to his Democratic opponent.”
He even slammed DeSantis as a “Harvard fat boy” who “can’t get out of his own way.”
“Not smart. Not honest and not going to be president,” Stone said on social media.
While former President Donald Trump hasn’t been quite so harsh in public, he did take a veiled shot at DeSantis during an interview on One America News. Trump criticized “gutless” politicians who refuse to say whether they have taken the COVID-19 booster shot, though only one Republican politician at the time had refused to do so – DeSantis.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.