Donald Trump’s energized, loyal base gives the former president an edge in the race for the 2024 GOP nomination. This presents a problem for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Although he likely would be a stronger contender than Trump against incumbent President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. Trump’s base will vote for Trump regardless of what the former president says or does.
On paper, DeSantis has the edge to take the Republican nomination away from former President Donald Trump in 2024 even though he has not formally announced he will run. He’s presided over a successful run as Florida’s chief executive.
What could happen as the 2024 campaign unfolds?
Fighting for the GOP Base
DeSantis and Trump share many of the same core populist themes and issues.
And unlike Trump who has not won an election since 2016, DeSantis managed to win re-election in Florida by a wide margin. DeSantis won every county in the state except three and blew out his Democratic opponent former Gov. Charlie Crist by almost 20 points.
DeSantis showed with his most recent gubernatorial win that he can win the same voter demographic that cost Trump his re-election. The governor flipped once reliable Democratic bastions in Florida including Miami-Dade County.
In contrast, Donald Trump is deeply polarizing. Fifty-two percent of Americans view Trump unfavorably, while 43 percent view him favorably.
Midterms Cast a Shadow on Donald Trump
This was apparent following the 2022 midterm elections after Trump-endorsed candidates such as Mehmet Oz, Hershel Walker, Kari Lake, and Doug Mastriano went down to defeat.
Biden holds the White House today because Trump alienated white suburban voters and especially suburban women. Suburban voters swung from a 1.2 million vote advantage for Trump in 2016 to a 613,000 vote advantage for Biden in suburban counties in 2020.
This proved true in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
“DeSantis is performing exceptionally well for someone who has never run for president before nor been part of a national ticket. But I also want to see how he does as an actual candidate, assuming he becomes one – you just can’t make any assumptions until you actually see how someone performs,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball told 19FortyFive. “So I guess I’d say Trump has a small edge for now, even though he’s clearly not as dominant as he was in the party when he was president.”
For DeSantis, the road to victory means drawing in new voters and convincing enough Trump supporters that he can govern and be true to their issues. In contrast with Trump, DeSantis has shown that he knows how to appoint people who will put his agenda into place instead of those who have other political agendas.
DeSantis’ wins against public school bureaucracies and Disney exemplify his competency.
However, Trump’s base admires that he accomplished many of the things he said he would do during the 2020 presidential campaign.
These include his policy wins on abortion, judges, foreign policy, his pushback against China, and the fact he kept America out of new military conflicts.
Unlike DeSantis, Trump found himself undermined at every turn by people he appointed: Defense Secretary James Mattis, FBI Director Christopher Wray, or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump’s Advantage Is Clear
But Trump’s base does not care. It sees him as the man who remembers the forgotten. Primaries are won by activists, and the erosion of local party structures in the GOP gives Donald Trump the advantage.
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