Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has work to do if he wants to wrest the Republican nomination for president from former President Donald Trump.
But Ron DeSantis has plenty of time should he run, and the governor is doing some initial spade work to prepare for a tough contest against Trump and others.
Another poll that measured a hypothetical matchup between DeSantis and Trump has the ex-president ahead, but DeSantis is way out in front of other candidates in the mix.
Ron DeSantis vs. Donald Trump: What Are the Numbers?
A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll that measured voter preferences for Trump and DeSantis has good news for the former president. Trump leads DeSantis by eight points — 47% to 39%. The survey asked 1,516 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents from Feb. 23 to 27. A previous Yahoo News/ YouGov in early February found that DeSantis was ahead by 4 points, so there has been a 12-point swing.
Others Are Not Polling Well
When the poll included other Republican White House hopefuls, Trump scored 45% to 29% for DeSantis. Former South Carolina Governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley came in third at 4%. Ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finished fourth with 3 points. No other candidate scored over 2%.
Another candidate who has declared for the presidency is biotech entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy. He did not register on the Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
The next watched contest will be the straw poll at the right-wing meeting CPAC that starts March 1 and runs to March 4 near Washington, DC. Trump will give the keynote speech, while Haley, Pompeo, and Ramaswamy will also speak.
Notably absent is Ron DeSantis, who will be busy doing other campaign-related events during that timeframe.
What Is Ron DeSantis Up To?
Ron DeSantis will headline a retreat among donors and local politicians in West Palm Beach, Florida. The governor is hyping his new book The Courage to Be Free. He has upcoming visits to Alabama, Texas, and California. He will also pitch to donors at a Club for Growth meeting.
So, DeSantis is acting like a candidate even though he likely won’t declare officially until after his state’s legislative session is over in May. He is giving up territory to Trump at this point, but DeSantis is scoring well in polls even though he is not in the race. This shows that his name recognition is strong among GOP faithful. Right-leaning voters like his culture war policies.
DeSantis has been a strong fundraiser. He tallied at least $200 million for his 2022 re-election campaign. That is a record for a gubernatorial candidate. He has around $90 million cash on hand. He will still have to transfer his state campaign cash to a federal fund.
That money will be needed to hire campaign staff and set up a grassroots organization in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina should he run.
This month, Ron DeSantis is expected to visit those early states.
Is Not Speaking at CPAC a Mistake by DeSantis?
Some strategists wondered why DeSantis is skipping CPAC. An unnamed Republican political operative was interviewed by The Hill.
“[CPAC] is a well-known Beltway commodity. Trump is going, Haley is going, so why not show up?” the strategist asked. “He knows where he wants to be, so I guess he doesn’t see it as a big deal. But if Trump’s going to be there, why cede that ground to him?”
Donald Trump will speak at CPAC on March 4 and 19FortyFive will be there for coverage of the whole event including the speeches by Haley, Pompeo, and Ramaswamy.
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Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.